Deal­ing with af­ter­math of Cape Bre­ton floods

Re­sponse team chap­lain co-or­di­na­tor ad­dresses lead­er­ship prayer break­fast

Cape Breton Post - - Cape Breton - BY GREG MCNEIL gm­c­neil@cb­post.com

Dev­as­tat­ing floods that washed over many parts of Cape Bre­ton on Thanks­giv­ing weekend 2016 only added to the trauma many in the area were al­ready feel­ing.

That was an ob­ser­va­tion made by Ann Gillies who was a chap­lain co-or­di­na­tor with the Billy Gra­ham Rapid Re­sponse Team when it ar­rived here in Oc­to­ber to help peo­ple cope with the floods.

She re­turned on Fri­day to speak about what she saw dur­ing the Nova Sco­tia Lead­er­ship Prayer Break­fast at the Mem­ber­tou Trade and Con­ven­tion Cen­tre.

“The flood comes in and peo­ple are dev­as­tated. They lose ma­te­rial pos­ses­sions but it’s the pic­tures, the things that mean so much to each in­di­vid­ual,” she told those in at­ten­dance.

“For some peo­ple, es­pe­cially the peo­ple of Cape Bre­ton, it was just one more in a long list of losses for them.”

The flood, she found, added to feel­ings of hope­less­ness deeply rooted in the com­mu­nity in­volv­ing ar­eas such as the loss of in­dus­try, ad­dic­tions and abuse.

The job of the re­sponse team was not just to help peo­ple clean up but also to lis­ten to their per­sonal stories and the won­der­ful but some­times tragic and sad history of Cape Bre­ton.

“Some didn’t have any hope for the fu­ture,” she re­called. “Oth­ers were be­gin­ning to have some hope and so our job was to come along­side and sort of breathe a re­newed hope into their spirit.”

On her re­turn for the first time since Oc­to­ber, she won­dered if many fol­lowed their ad­vice that in­cluded re­con­nect­ing with their lo­cal church.

“Many of the peo­ple that we were called to their homes were strug­gling with all of those things and they had lost their place of hope and sup­port from their church,” she said.

“They had drawn away from their fel­low­ship of be­liev­ers. That gives them one more in that tier of dis­cour­age­ment and hope­less­ness.”

No­body is per­fect, in­clud­ing the church, she said, but she be­lieves the church can pro­vide a sense of com­mu­nity that can be valu­able in times of need.

Be­sides the key­note ad­dress from Gillies, Fri­day’s break­fast also in­cluded read­ings from Sgt. Gil­bert Boone of the Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Po­lice, Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Mu­nic­i­pal­ity Mayor Ce­cil Clarke and mu­sic from Kim But­ler and Friends.

The open­ing prayer came from Rev. Stacey LeMoine and welcoming re­marks came from Sarah Barnes.

Speak­ing on be­half of event or­ga­niz­ers, Dave MacKenna re­ferred to the break­fast and oth­ers like it around the world as a Chris­tian ex­pres­sion in the com­mu­nity, par­tic­u­larly the busi­ness com­mu­nity.

Be­cause of the work of Gillies’ team in Oc­to­ber, they felt it would be valu­able to bring her back to speak to the greater com­mu­nity about that ex­pe­ri­ence.

“There’s still a lot of peo­ple hurt­ing,” MacKenna said.

“You hear about stuff in Syd­ney which is dev­as­tat­ing but there’s Glace Bay, New Water­ford and other places. They have peo­ple hurt­ing too.”

De­spite feel­ings of hope­less­ness, he said the over­all mes­sage they of­fer is all about hope.

(JMMJFT

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