On Monday, August 4, nearly 200 mm (7.8 inches) of rain fell within a three-hour period, causing intense flash flooding in localized areas in the city of Burlington, Ontario. Over 2,000 homeowners reported damage. While several families from Burlington Christian Reformed Church were affected, there wasn’t a single drop inside the church despite more than two feet (60 cm) of water surrounding the building.
Once the water had receded, Burlington CRC became the Disaster Relief location for Samaritan’s Purse, an international relief organization that provides immediate crisis assistance in Canada.
Brent Davis, the national director of Samaritan’s Purse Canada, explained that while many of those affected in Burlington have some form of insurance or aid to repair the damage, most Canadian communities are less equipped to address the immediate clean-up needs. Samaritan’s Purse can mobilize quickly to provide communities with the necessary equipment and to organize volunteers. Chaplains from the Billy Graham Rapid Response team also come to provide emotional support to homeowners and volunteers.
After debris removal and home gut-outs are completed, Samaritan’s Purse partners with organizations like World Renew to continue with the necessary rebuilding. Steve Elliott, base manager at the Burlington CRC location, pointed out that while they have the supplies to carry out the work, it is really about the human element. “We wouldn’t be able to do this without the volunteers,” said Elliott.
Many of the volunteers, eager to help out their neighbors, came from Burlington. Some also came from surrounding areas such as Stoney Creek, Smithville, and Cambridge. Volunteer John Mans of Smithville CRC has gone on several international mission trips with World Renew but was happy to have a chance to assist locally. John and Jenny Glasbergen, members of Burlington CRC and liaisons for World Renew, were also glad to be of help at home: “It’s a good chance to help out our own community.”