Samaritan’s Purse relief efforts underway for flooding victims (June 25, 2013)

Written by Mario Toneguzzi

Published by Calgary Herald on Tuesday, June 25, 2013

CALGARY — Samaritan’s Purse is well-known for its relief efforts and humanitarian aid in places around the world when tragedy strikes.

Their latest efforts are much closer to home.

The Christian aid organization is springing into action to help the thousands of people who have been affected by the devastating floods in southern Alberta.

It has activated its Disaster Assistance Response Team. Their specially-equipped Disaster Relief Units include tractor-trailer units outfitted with essential disaster recovery equipment such as generators, pumps, hand tools, and safety gear.

Samaritan’s Purse is co-ordinating with officials, church partners, and other organizations and is mobilizing volunteers to help vulnerable homeowners with property reclamation and clean up, at no charge to homeowners, as flood waters recede.

Rapid Response Team chaplains from the Billy Graham Evangelical Association of Canada will be on hand to help meet spiritual and emotional needs of affected homeowners and families.

Samaritan’s Purse helped meet the emergency needs, including food and hygiene kits, for 1,000 evacuees from the Calgary Drop-In and Rehab Centre. The response is also targeting the Siksika Nation where 220 homes were damaged in the flood and 1,000 people were evacuated.

“Samaritan’s Purse has the resources and ability to mobilize volunteers and help homeowners in southern Alberta recover from this devastating flood,” said Fred Weiss, executive director for Samaritan’s Purse Canada.

“We have responded to flooding, fires, tornadoes, and many other natural disasters around the world, across Canada, and now we have an opportunity to help in our own back yard.”

On Tuesday morning, volunteers were putting together 500 family hygiene kits, with essentials, at Samaritan’s Purse’s northeast warehouse.

Laurent Trabadello, regional director for Africa and Latin America for Samaritan’s Purse, said the organization would do as many hygiene kits as necessary depending on the need in the Calgary area. Several thousand kits are distributed each year throughout the world in areas hit by disaster.

The Salvation Army is also assisting flood victims throughout Calgary and southern Alberta. The Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Response team has mobilized its fleet of Community Response Units (CRU) for flood areas that have been affected and are in need of physical, emotional and spiritual support.

Community Response Units have been at the evacuation centre in Blackie providing food since Thursday, as well as in High River since Sunday night helping to meet the needs of the first responders, said spokesperson Pam Goodyear.

The Salvation Army has also been in Medicine Hat at the evacuation centre assisting with accommodations, clothing and other needed items, she said.

“We’re on standby with five other mobile units, getting ready now to go out to other areas. We’re just waiting on specific word on where we’re going,” added Goodyear.