Many hands make for light work

You don’t have to be old to be a volunteer. And I learned this week that even the youngest in our community are great volunteers and tireless workers. For five days I have been down at the Shevlin Woodyard joining MNR firefighters, Fort Frances firefighters, and other community volunteers filling, tying, and loading sandbags on pallets to be used in Fort Frances.

On Saturday, two young ten-year-olds shovelled and bagged sand for four hours without a complaint. One was the son of a municipal employee, the other his best friend. On Sunday, another high-school student in Grade ten joined his mother at a sandbag station. He too worked for eight hours. And while he was there, another family with two young children showed up to bag sand. They even brought their own shovels.

Classes from the elementary and secondary schools have filled bags firstly at the Public Works Yard and at the Shevlin Wood Yard. They are to be commended.

Last week, John Homer brought many of his Causeway Insurance staff and children to spend the afternoon bagging in the rain. Adrian Chapman had staff and their children too at the site on the same day.

One day Mayor June Caul looked around the community volunteers at the Shevlin Yard and shuddered when she realized the average age of the volunteers at that moment was over sixty-five. In a community that prides itself on volunteerism, one would wonder where all the younger volunteers were.

I should talk about the impact of the MNR fire crews who have spent days filling sandbags. The crews from both Fort Frances and Dryden are like huge well-oiled machines as they demolish sand piles in quick order and pack pallets with bags to be taken to locations on Front Street, Idylwild Drive, Frog Creek area, and other flooding areas in the community.

Almost 60,000 bags will have been filled and distributed in Fort Frances by the time this column is printed. That is in Fort Frances alone, and similar numbers of bags will have been made on Couchiching First Nation, and at Watten area. They are being used to protect shoreline and build dikes around homes and cottages in the area.

We learned on Sunday that the first dike on Front Street was already seeing water lap at the top bank, and crews were dispatched to widen the base and make the dikes taller. That will proceed all the way down Front Street.

Rainy Lake continues to reach higher and higher levels and is not expected to peak before June 19. Even when the lake begins receding, it will continue to be necessary to monitor the sandbag dikes to prevent then from collapsing. Thousands more sandbags will be needed along the shores of Rainy Lake. And the old saying, dating from early 1300s, “Many Hands Make for Light Work” has never been truer. Every hour donated is greatly appreciated.

Former Publisher
Fort Frances Times