'A flicker of light': Over $200K raised for flood victims in Fort Simpson, Jean Marie River

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A road flooded in Fort Simpson, N.W.T, on May 8, one day before a general evacuation was called for the town.  (Submitted by Val Nahanni - image credit)
A road flooded in Fort Simpson, N.W.T, on May 8, one day before a general evacuation was called for the town. (Submitted by Val Nahanni - image credit)

While it's been a difficult time for many in the flood- ravaged communities of Fort Simpson and Jean Marie River, N.W.T., one Yellowknifer, Patrick Scott, has been busy fundraising in the hopes he could offer some support.

And recently, he announced the amount of donations that rolled in over the last two months have surpassed the initial goal at over $200,000.

"[It] really says a lot about how caring people are, and how much people want to reach out and help," Scott said.

People seemed to have been feeling generous from the start.

Scott set up the online page shortly after people left their homes in May, and by mid-afternoon of the day it launched, more than $4,400 had been raised. Within two days the amount reached $50,000.

As of last Thursday, the total was $234,902.


International donors

Scott said the donations came from about 700 people from "all walks of life" and from as far as Ireland and down to Texas.

"It's just unbelievably humbling to have initiated something and had such an amazing response," Scott said.

Two things motivated him most when he first started the fundraiser: for one — he had lived in Fort Simpson for eight years. The other, he had experienced flooding himself in 1989 while living there.

"I know the depth of feeling that that creates when you sit in one room of your house and you look at water flowing through your house.," he said. "It's pretty depressing."

Hundreds of people along the Mackenzie River in the Northwest Territories were forced out of their homes as flood waters rose during seasonal ice breakup in May.

In Fort Simpson, a community of about 1,200, about 700 people were displaced — some staying with relatives or friends elsewhere, others camping out on higher ground and waiting for the water to recede.

Meanwhile, in Jean Marie River, at least 22 out of the tiny community's 26 homes were reported to be damaged and contaminated with fuel.

Money still 'trickling in'

Scott said he knows how important it is to get the house cleaned out and dried out as quickly as possible after flooding, which is why he wanted to help raise money for needed equipment to do that.

While the fundraiser ended on June 27, he said money is still "trickling in."

The Fort Simpson Historical Society has agreed to distribute the funds.

"How do you help give people hope? How do you help create a flicker of light when it just looks so devastating and despair is settling in?" he said.

"Well, give them the opportunity to start taking action … that's sort of where we were coming from."

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