A little too close to home: a community member helps Red Cross following her evacuation

By Justine Touaux, Canadian Red Cross

Barb standing in a mask outside with snow around, holding the leash to her dog, DaisyOn November 14, Barb Gagnon saw flood waters come very close to her house just outside of Princeton, British Columbia. She was evacuated to a friend’s house with her dog, Daisy, and it wasn't long before she decided to roll up her sleeves “in order to keep my sanity and keep busy,” she says.
“I wasn’t able to go and help the people who were flooded, that’s heavy work and I thought I’d leave that for the younger people but, when the Red Cross came to town, I offered to help them out,” Barb explains enthusiastically.

Like other local volunteers, Barb helps create a link between the Red Cross and the members of this small, tight-knit community: “I know a lot of people in town,” she says, “so when they’ve been coming in, I’ve been able to comfort them, reassure them that they are going to get the help they need and direct them to the person that’s going to give them that help.”

In hindsight, Barb believes disasters like this one brings people together. The Princeton community, including its newest members, have come out to help each other. “I got to meet my neighbour who had just moved in,” Barb says.

She is also thankful for Red Cross volunteers, the “wonderful people” who are “giving their time for the people of Princeton.” Barb has decided to make her engagement with the Red Cross official by applying to become a Red Cross volunteer. The Red Cross is very grateful to Barb for coming to support the Red Cross teams and her community despite having been impacted by the disaster herself.
Barb in glasses and mask standing in front of the Canadian Red Cross logo
Barb Gagnon at the Princeton & District Community Skills Centre in Princeton, where the Canadian Red Cross has set up its registration centre as part of the B.C. Floods and Extreme Weather response

Be ready and store emergency supplies

Having seen friends and relatives experience the anguish that comes with having to flee your home and having now experienced that uncertainty herself, Barb urges everyone to have an emergency preparedness kit with their important information ready to go. Knowing what risks are present in your community and planning for them will help you in case of an emergency.

Another lesson she learned in this disaster is to be prepared and have water stored in case of an emergency. “I visited this 92-year-old lady to see if she was okay and needed water, but she was ahead of the game and had already put all that water aside,” says Barb.

To support your community when help is needed most, apply to one of our volunteer opportunities.
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