Exhausted volunteers battling rising Nipissing waters

'What do you tell these people who are slowly losing everything?'

Residents continue to help one another fill sandbags in hopes of keeping rising Lake Nipissing at bay. But extra hands would help tired residents who are struggling to keep up with the demand. Jennifer Hamilton-McCharles / The Nugget

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JOCKO POINT – Their arms and backs are sore and their eyes are heavy from lack of sleep.

Volunteers are continuing to try to keep Lake Nipissing at bay, but the stress and long hours are taking a toll.

“You just keep going, there’s no choice. What do you tell these people who are slowly losing everything?” asks Colette Tremblay, a volunteer and Jocko Point resident.

“We had a resident in a wheelchair come out and fill sandbags for 10 hours. We went from a community to becoming a family,” she says.

“Two neighbours were fighting the first day over sandbags and now they’re actually helping one another.”

Sandbag filling stations were just as busy Tuesday as they were the first day they were set up at Jocko Point.

Residents are desperately trying to save as much of their properties as they can while keeping their homes dry.

Dan Racine was out with his ATV and trailer trying to salvage what property his neighbour has left.

“When that south wind hits and the waves come crashing in, it’s devastating,” he said while loading more sandbags onto his trailer.

Racine said it was his 10th trip and he has no idea when it will be quitting time.

School buses, pickups and ATVs pulling trailers continue to go up and down Jocko Point Road helping those in need.

“I don’t like seeing my hometown under water,” says Jenna Lent. “The shoreline is done, but we’re continuing on.

“I’m flippin’ sore, but I have to continue to help others. You never know when you’ll be the one who needs an extra hand.”

Christine Philion shakes her head as she walks onto her deck.

Homes continue to be ravaged by rising Lake Nipissing. But the community has pulled together to ‘become family.’Jennifer Hamilton-McCharles / The Nugget

She points to her property line, now submerged, and her well, now contaminated.

About 80 per cent of Philion’s five-acre lot is covered with water.

“The only thing I have left is my front yard and driveway, and who knows if I’ll still have that once the rain storm hits tomorrow,” she says. “My backyard has already become a swamp.”

The mother of three’s main concern is keeping the septic protected. She’s already relying on bottled water.

“If I lose the septic, everything will back up in the house.”

While residents continue to battle Mother Nature, Tremblay and fellow Jocko Point resident Amanda Champagne check in on vulnerable residents, as well as those who may need a few extra hands.

The two say the impact of the damage is taking its toll.

“We went into this one home and a girl was crying. The waters had damaged a lot of her family’s belongings. The worst part is that it was her birthday, so we grabbed her a butter tart and gathered a few high school students and sang her happy birthday.”

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