Hutterite colony offers assistance to evacuees

Feeding 700 homeless High River residents is not easy, but members of the Cayley Hutterite colony just outside the town have vowed to keep cooking until the crisis is over.


“They need help. They went away with the shirts on their back. They need everything,” said Marie Walter, a colony member who is helping co-ordinate the meals for flood evacuees at the recreation centre in Nanton, Alta.


Most of the evacuees are from nearby High River, one of the hardest hit communities from the flooded rivers.


Walter said members of 20 Hutterite colonies have been cooking non-stop since the water rushed into homes June 20.


“We’re feeding, feeding, feeding. We’re tired, but we will stay at it till it’s all over,” she said.


“They eat all day long. They eat constantly. They never quit. It’s endless,” said Walter, who said they work in 16-hour shifts.


The colonies have donated food as have local businesses, stores and residents.


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Walter said one of the colony members rescued an elderly couple stuck in their car that was floating in High River.


“He was up to his neck and he got them out and put them in a vac truck,” she said.


Brett Finley of Okotoks, Alta., responded to a Facebook post looking for help rescuing stranded livestock on the Siksika Nation June 23.


However, vague directions sent Finley on a wild goose chase from the west side of Calgary to the east.


“By the time we got there the water level had dropped and the animals walked out,” he said.


While there are willing helpers, the incident made Finley realize clear communication is required between volunteers and the needy.


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“If someone puts up a post, there has to be one phone number to call and clear directions,” he said.


“Basically it was just a cruise around in my truck.”


Roland Lines, communications manager for the Alberta SPCA, said staff was busy June 24 listening to 52 voice mail messages on the help line from the weekend.


Most of the calls were from High River residents whose animals were stranded in their homes when they went to work on the morning of June 20.


Lines said the SPCA doesn’t have the ability to do rescues on a large scale, but it does work with emergency management officials and passes on requests for help.


It also has lists of people willing to board or transport livestock displaced from the flood.


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The Alberta government website page, 2013 Flooding: How can you help, lists where people can donate cash or how to volunteer to house displaced people or pitch in to clean up debris.