Art Therapy after the Flood

August 15, 2014

by Grace Van Mil, Project Coordinator for the Americas, Samaritan's Purse

A street-side canvas set up by a Burlington, ON resident gives a whole new meaning to the word ‘watercolor.’ The city was caught in a flash flood in early August, and the canvas is one way a particular neighborhood is helping each other cope.

This large art canvas caught my eye as I walked down one of the streets in Burlington, Ontario that just last week was several feet underwater. The canvas was propped up against a vehicle and there was a container nearby that had some permanent markers in it. Titled “Burlington Flood 2014,” passersby were invited to sign their names or leave encouraging messages for members of this flood-affected neighborhood.

ArtBriar Emond, a local artist and resident on the waterlogged street, set up the flood-damaged canvas she rescued from her basement and watched as it became a kind of community encouragement board.

“It was a raging, muddy torrent of water,” said Emond, explaining what it was like for residents to receive about two month’s worth of rainfall in a several-hour span on August 4. “The street was submerged.”

She went on to describe the influx of sewer water that many area residents experienced. “It was like a geyser through the shower downstairs, and the toilet blew the lid right up. [It came] through the sink and the laundry drain…it was dramatic.”

Many residents had only 10 minutes from the time they first started experiencing flooding until basements and yards were overrun.

Deeply concerned for her neighbors during the flooding, Emond said, “For the seniors across the street—it was terrifying. We couldn’t get across the street. The current was so strong and there were large pieces of lumber floating down.”

Emond was glad to hear about the work Samaritan’s Purse is doing on behalf of those most in need after Burlington’s flash flood. “It is so much worse for so many families that don’t have any coverage, or very limited coverage,” she said. “Those people are going to be dealing with this on a whole other level, for a very long time.”

Burlington area volunteers or homeowners needing assistance can call 905-592-1874 to speak with our disaster response team who are on the ground at the Burlington Christian Reformed Church at 3422 New Street.

Read more about our flood relief work in Burlington here.