North America Response - 080654 Newsroom

Calgary Samaritan's Purse volunteers, staff prep for Texas deployment as they return home from B.C. wildfires

By Sarah Lawrynuik

There isn’t much of a reprieve this summer for disaster response staff and volunteers.

A Samaritan’s Purse convoy drove into Calgary Wednesday afternoon after a summer in B.C.’s interior, only to start prepping the equipment for a possible deployment to Houston, Texas to help in recovery efforts after tropical storm Harvey.

“This is a major response,” says Brent Davis, response director for Samaritan’s Purse.

“We want to be ready and prepared for that [deployment] call, and we are.”

B.C. response

It was 116 volunteers and about a dozen staff who rotated in and out of B.C. over the past two months, first offering help to those in need during flooding, then wildfires.

They were able to help 167 families.

Andy Northup returned to Calgary Wednesday after five weeks helping people in the Ashcroft area, about 100 km west of Kamloops, B.C.

For some, they went in with families the first time they saw the remnants of their destroyed homes. In other cases, it was smoke damage and fridge, or debris removal.

“We would also sift ash for people who had totally lost their homes and try to find some of those prized possessions, like maybe a gift from a grandmother … We actually found a gentleman’s war medals,” Northup told CBC News.

He calls the experience “a humbling honour” to be a part of these peoples’ recovery.

“People are really resilient.”

Houston bound

Davis says while he hasn’t yet received the call for Calgary resources to be deployed to Texas, he is expecting it. So far five similar units are in – or enroute to – Houston from across the United States.

He says from the news coverage he’s seeing, and estimates of 30,000 people being forced out of their homes, he believes the aid response will be akin to that seen in 2005 after hurricane Katrina.

Calgarians have turned out more and more to help with flood responses ever since 2013 when the city saw its own disastrous flood, he says.

North America Response - 080654 Newsroom

Help Samaritan's Purse respond quickly to victims of disasters across North America, providing not only physical assistance as people clean up and rebuild after wind, floods, fires, and other disasters, but also emotional and spiritual support in the aftermath of tragedy.