Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) Canada began cleanup work in Antigonish, N.S., on Sept. 30 in response to Hurricane Fiona.
That’s when volunteers from the Bethel Mennonite Church in Waterville, N.S., about a three-and-a-half hour drive from Antigonish, arrived to start cutting down fallen trees in the coastal town of 4,300 in the northeast part of the province.
“The town saw lots of damage from high winds and rain,” says Nick Hamm of the MDS Ontario Unit, who was sent to Atlantic Canada to support MDS’s Atlantic Canada Unit.
Hamm and Benny Penner, MDS Atlantic Canada’s unit chair, met with the Antigonish Emergency Management Team and took a tour of the town to assess the damage and determine how MDS could help.
Although many residents have already taken care of fallen trees, MDS has been asked to help about 50 homeowners with their trees.
“I expect more will ask for help once the word gets out,” says Hamm.
MDS’s priority will be to help vulnerable residents, including those experiencing economic challenges, seniors, accessibility and health concerns, says Shannon Long, marketing and communications officer for the Town of Antigonish. “We so appreciate the support of MDS,” she says.
After getting things set up in Antigonish, Hamm and Penner will go to Cape Breton to see how MDS can help in that area; additional volunteers from Elmira, Ont., are expected to start working in Cape Breton in early October.
At this time, it is not known how many volunteers will be needed, or what work MDS might be asked to do. “I know there is lots of damage in many parts of Atlantic Canada,” Hamm says. “Based on what I know right now, I expect there may be lots of work for us there.”
Those who want to volunteer to help with MDS's Hurricane Fiona response can sign up for a volunteer wait list by contacting Clara Flores at email@example.com or by calling toll-free 1-800-261-1274. To donate to MDS’s response in Atlantic Canada, visit mds.org to donate.