On April 23, a state of emergency was declared in Kashechewan First Nation due to severe flooding. Over the next several days, the Canadian Red Cross worked alongside municipal officials to provide support to the 1,672 community members that were forced to evacuate to six host communities.  Our volunteers provided registration and personal services, and also supported a congregate shelter in Kapuskasing. The Red Cross has personnel who live, volunteer and work in evacuated communities and know about the needs that people have when they have to pick up lives and evacuate. 
 
Red Cross volunteers with essential items for distributionWhen people need to evacuate, they often don’t have the opportunity to take with them basic essentials like shampoo, toothpaste, diapers and baby supplies. The Red Cross provides these necessities by setting up temporary ‘tuck shops’ in host communities that are housing evacuees as a way to make things easier for people who have been displaced to get the things they need. These items are provided free of charge, and the tuck shop provides evacuees with an opportunity to select the items they need most, giving them control in what can be an overwhelming situation. Having a tuck shop close by also reduces the stress of needing to travel and find stores in a community they are not familiar with.
 
“This initiative helps to support evacuees’ needs during an extended time outside of their home and community,” said Rose Thompson who managed the Timmins tuck shop as part of this year’s response.

“This is a stressful time for people, so our tuck shop provides a way to make things a bit easier and provide them with necessities.”

 
Offering support to a large number of people for an extended period of time, including children and seniors with mobility issues, requires the involvement and hard work of many people working together with a common goal. The Red Cross staff and volunteers work alongside municipal partners to ensure evacuees are as comfortable as possible when away from home, and that we maintain their dignity during a challenging situation. 
 
“Red Cross volunteers are some of the most hard-working and compassionate people I have ever met,” said Kim Pilkington, Deputy Director of Operations for Disaster Management for the Canadian Red Cross. “Volunteers are on the front lines working directly with vulnerable people, and in situations like the evacuation of Kashechewan, their teamwork helps to make sure we can support beneficiaries in their time of need.”
 
With the flood risk diminished, Kashechewan residents are now back in their own community. A big thank you to all Red Cross personnel who assisted with this response. If you are interested in making a difference, consider becoming a Red Cross volunteer in your community.