Due to the Gull River overflowing, the Reeve, Brent Devolin, declared Minden in a State of Emergency on May 6, 2017. He asked Marilynne Lesperance, the Chair of the Minden Community Food Bank & Community Kitchen to be the focal point and hub for relief donations for those affected by the flood.

Since the water started rising on the Gull River that runs through the Village of Minden, Ontario for the Flood of 2017, the Minden Community Food Centre has been working full tilt. This included preparation of food for the volunteer workers filling sandbags, building walls around the homes and businesses affected by the flooding, municipal workers and anyone who needed help.

Marilynne and the Reeve both put out calls for donations and assistance. Based on the requirements determined from the 100 Year Flood in 2013 in the Village of Minden, requests for blankets, sheets, pillows, toiletries and food hit the airwaves.

Support came from the Red Cross immediately to register the residents affected by the flood.

On Sunday afternoon, May 7, 2017, the Food Bank /Community Kitchen started planning the work effort. E-mails, phone calls and radio notices went out for volunteers. By 9AM Monday morning, sandwiches, soup and desserts were being prepared to feed the volunteers, Red Cross and flood affected residents to be served daily at the Community Centre.

Once the lunches, water, coffee and snacks were delivered, work began on the hot dinner to be server at 5:30PM in the Community Centre and later at the Community Kitchen.

This routine was followed for the first week, morning & evening, rain or shine. The phone rang constantly.

In the meantime, donations of food, necessities and money were coming in to the Food Bank every day. Local businesses and Service groups, such as Tim Horton, Canadian Tire and The Minden Lions Club offered many of such items. All of the surrounding Food Banks offered their assistance as well.

The regularly scheduled Monday and Wednesday business of the Food Bank proceeded as usual providing supplies for their regular clients. In addition, the Food Bank was open from 10AM to 4PM every day to provide relief supplies for the flood victims. In liaison with the principal of Archie Stouffer Public School, we sent fruit, snacks, juices, water and tooth brushes to assist the flood-affected children who were able to get to school, in some cases by boat to meet the school bus.

One of the situations that occurs due to the rising waters and flooding is some people are resistant to leave their homes and management of their sump pumps for fear of losing more. These people needed to be identified, provided with food and advised of the assistance available to them.

On Saturday May 13th, the Lake Simcoe 4X4 Off Road Club arrived at the Food Bank with 5 skids of food, water, towels, bedding, toiletries, cash and a great willingness to help.

Some of their vehicles can drive through close to a metre of water. This is just what was needed to get meals to the flood victims. The 4X4 Club was very pleased to help. They delivered 35 meals to the people that were not able or willing to leave their homes.

Later in the afternoon, after the deliveries, the phone rang at the Food Bank. The elderly caller was sobbing and wanted to thank the people that thought about him.

As Food Bank / Community Kitchen volunteers, it is very gratifying to see many of the residence of the hardest hit Anson & Orde Streets come into the Community Kitchen in their boots & hip waders for a delicious home cooked meal. They are able to talk about their common or similar problem, enjoy the meal, laugh, relax and perhaps put their worries of the day behind them in a warm and friendly atmosphere. The Reeve, Brent Devolin attended dinner to provide updates and reassurance. The United Church Minister, Max Ward attended to be available for comfort to those in need. The Red Cross registered the families affected by this emergency situation and offered future support during the recovery stage.

All of this under the unwavering guidance & direction of Marilynne Lesperance, Chair of the Minden Community Food Bank, the volunteer work and support moved very efficiently and successfully during this community disaster. On average, the Minden Food Bank & Community Kitchen fed up to 60 people for dinner every night and they have delivered at least another 60+ meals to those who didn’t leave their homes. As the water levels start to recede, the volunteer work goes on to support the community of Minden Hills.

Submitted by the Minden Community Food Bank Link opens a new window as a part of the 25 Years of Changing Lives Gallery.

Thank you to Hunger Action Month sponsor, Cargill Canada!