Atikokan flood relief gets boost

Flood relief efforts in Atikokan got a big financial shot-in-the-arm yesterday thanks to a $10,000 cheque from Videon and Cancom.
“It’s really something,” enthused Moreen Cox, a flood disaster relief volunteer.
“This is the biggest donation by far,” she noted. “There have been some astronomical amounts of financial loss for a town this size.”
“It’s a feel good thing,” said Ray Belanger, manager of Videon in Atikokan. “It’s about giving something back to the community and helping out.”
In July of last year, about half of the 800 homes in Atikokan were damaged in flooding, with some residents facing losses of $60,000-$70,000.
The provincial government has estimated around $4.5 million worth of damage was incurred as a result of the flooding.
Belanger said the combined efforts of Cancom and Videon to help flood victims in Atikokan came after the Manitoba flood disaster effort this past spring.
“Cancom said to Videon [there], ‘Hey can we help?’ but there was no area served by Videon that was affected by the flood,” he noted.
“Then Videon said ‘Hey, Atikokan [needs it] and the information started flowing back and forth.”
“We just felt it was an opportunity for us to support the local community of Atikokan,” echoed Don Gordon, director of Videon’s Regional Systems, from his Winnipeg office.
“I know there was some fairly big devastation and that’s a serious thing for a small community,” he added. “We [and Cancom] just wanted to pay something back.”
So far, flood relief fundraising efforts in Atikokan have netted about $70,000, including Tuesday’s donation from Videon and Cancom.
“The government said we would have to raise half of the [$4.5 million],” noted Cox.
But she also indicated the flood relief committee wants the provincial government to up its financial contribution from 1:1 to 3:1 for Atikokan’s disaster needs, and to communities in need of the same kind of help down the road.
“Most important is that residents be compensated [for damage], second is to make small communities aware of what to expect from government,” she said.
“Third is to bring attention to Canadians of what rural communities have to go through, and then to change federal and provincial policy and the way they deal with small communities,” she added.