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Sandbaggers Help Hold the Fort

When the downtown core of your city sits at the confluence of four rivers you make annual preparations for the possibility of ice jams and possible flooding. What you don't expect is that a long winter and late spring will make the conditions perfect for a once in 100 years flood.

The flooding of what the municipality calls its “lower townsite,” situated at the convergence of the ice-jammed Athabasca and Clearwater rivers, began on April 26, with the water creeping up from the southeast. Within 24 hours, the municipality had ordered the evacuation of the entire low-lying urban area with its almost 13,000 residents. The water was on its way to surrounding some 1,200 buildings. The flooding was disastrous.

Immediately groups of volunteers started to rally resources and people to provide aid. Through such online groups as the Facebook group YMM20 Flood & Evac the scattered efforts of thousands of volunteers started to be coordinated and highly efficient. Someone noticed the hospital maintenance staff packing sandbags and quickly the word went out that sandbaggers were needed to protect the hospital.

An army of volunteers showed up and very quickly a sandbag berm was erected to prevent flood waters from creeping from the staff parking lot up and into the receiving bays of the hospital.

Murray Crawford, Senior Operating Officer for AHS North Zone Area 10 said, "It was tremendous to see so many community members show up so quickly to aid in saving this hospital. Volunteers were calm and respectful of social distancing where possible but just dove right in and got the job done."  Crawford continued, "It is obvious just how important the Northern Light Health Centre is to the community. Folks have been very active supporting frontline workers with cheers and donations through the COVID-19 pandemic and this massive volunteer effort really demonstrated to everyone working at the hospital that our service is important."

We really want to send out thanks and appreciation to all the sandbaggers out there! Thanks for all your tremendous efforts during the flood and now the disaster cleanup. You are amazing people!

We also thought you might like this article from our friends a the Rural Health Professionals Action Plan:


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