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Ontario widow “eternally grateful” for MDS volunteers

December 12, 2019

Lynn Lavictoire-Johnson wasn’t home when the water started rising on the Ottawa River last spring.

The 62-year-old widow was visiting her sister in B.C. when she heard her house was in danger.

Friends and neighbours, including members of the nearby Waterloo-Markham Mennonite church, sandbagged her house and saved it from being flooded.

What the sandbags couldn’t do, though, was keep the water from coming up from below her home.

“My house was saved, thanks to my neighbours, but the water damaged the floor, destroyed the furnace, damaged the bathroom and all the electrical connections,” she says.

“After being surrounded by water for over six weeks, the ground just couldn’t absorb any more.”

With help from Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS), which is rebuilding or repairing six houses in Renfrew County, Lavictoire-Johnson now has repaired floors, a new furnace, a usable bathroom and the electricity is back.

As well, volunteers cleaned all the waterlogged and damaged items out of her garage—a big and “icky” job, she notes.

“I’m grateful for the help from MDS,” she says. “The volunteers are lovely. I could go on for hours about them, about how they give up their time to help. They’re awesome.”

Although her house is raised off the ground, it’s not high enough to protect it given the recent flooding in the area.

“The river always rises [in spring], but never as bad as last time,” she says, noting levels are expected to continue to be higher than normal in the future.

She’s put her name on a list to raise her house well above new flood levels; she doesn’t want to go through another flood event again. After that happens, MDS will come back to make sure everything is put back together.

“I’m eternally grateful to them, for their kindness, their love,” she says.

John Longhurst, MDS Canada communications coordinator