For flood-weary Constance Bay, Mennonite volunteers a godsend – Ottawa

They appeared out of nowhere, and they got right down to work.

The five young men — still teenagers, by the looks of them — pulled on white plastic coveralls and crawled into the cramped space underneath Yvonne Johnson’s flood-damaged home in Constance Bay, where they replaced the sodden insulation and installed a new vapour barrier.

Yvonne Johnson says she wouldn’t have been able to afford the repairs. The volunteers, she said, were a godsend. ‘The kindness is incredible.’ (Jean Delisle/CBC)

The fee for their labour?

“They said, ‘There is no charge,'” recalled Johnson, 77.

What’s more, the young men had travelled all the way from Mennonite communities in southwestern Ontario, and the supplies had been donated.

For Johnson, who says she couldn’t have afforded the repairs otherwise, they were a godsend.

“The kindness is incredible, and it just made me know I made the right move and I belong here.” 

500 homes damaged

Johnson had recently purchased the small bungalow with dove-grey siding on Bayview Drive, a short walk from her daughter’s home in the quiet waterfront community in west Ottawa. 

One day back in May she was wrapping up her affairs back in Regina, preparing for the move east, when her phone rang.

It was her daughter, calling to tell her about the flood.

Yvonne Johnson’s home was hit by spring flooding in the Ottawa area. (Yvonne Johnson/Supplied)

“Well after she stopped crying, I thought, Oh, what about my house?” Johnson recalled.  

The floodwater had spared the home’s living space, but inundated the crawl space, ruining a pump and leaving the insulation a soggy mess.  

The volunteer group West Carleton Constance Bay Flood Relief estimates 500 homes in the area were damaged in the spring flooding. Many of the supplies used to repair those homes, including Johnson’s, were paid for through donations to the group.

Faith-based volunteer groups

Among the volunteers supplying the labour are members of faith-based groups including Samaritan’s Purse and the Mennonite Disaster Service. Many travelled hundreds of kilometres to Constance Bay to rip out mouldy drywall and soggy carpeting in the days and weeks after the floodwater receded.

‘Our mandate is to help [flood victims] in Christian love. We are taught to help our neighbours, and our neighbours are here as well.’
– Nick Hamm, Mennonite Disaster Service

Now they’ve returned to help with the reconstruction. The volunteers are…

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