Tales from the flood. The Third.
THE ARMY IS HERE THE ARMY IS HERE!!!!
After three weeks, the PM sent the army in. Those first 2 days the soldiers filled a lot of sand bags. And then apparently distributed them. We saw them on the news filling sand bags and distributing them! On the news! Lots of politicians filling sand bags too! They even had rolled up their sleeves for the photo! Bless them. I was hoping to see a flood baby kiss. The people far away from the river, the city folk, needed their sandbags desperately. Made perfect sense to me. Those closest to the river, we had 5ft of water on our yards, we were stranded, scruffy, scared and could wait it out without sandbags, of course we could. Clearly they were on the ball, yay!
This was our first Army peeps passing on our road! They waved and zipped by. Not daunted by speed, I hauled ass through the water like I was angry and blocked their zipping. Trapped, they now found themselves surrounded by happy happy refugees. Hi! Hi! Army peeps! Thank you for coming! We need this and this and...What's that commanding officer? Oh you are only doing a reconnaissance for now? Gotcha! Okay. Are you taking notes? No. Oh. Well we need this and this and this...lots of pointing and smiles.
Here they are 3 days later, still reconnaissance-ing. No talking to civilians. Game face on. You know, in case we have water bombs attached to our chests.
Several days later, driving through town, we could see hundreds of these, or I could just sit on my porch and see one on my lawn (not driveway, no) every day. Well not everyday, just on sunny days. The road was filled with politicians, photographers, media, army, firemen, provincial police on sunny clear, no wind days.
(Click on photo, you can verify blue duct tape on the end of the gun. I wasn't making this up, all true)
I am sad to say not one on duty soldier helped us on this road, not on many roads. Nor at the community center where they were stationed. Not one would open a door for me or my Mum, our hands filled with cases of water, trying to push a door open with our feet or bum. Just stood there. Day after day. Not a thing.
What a stark contrast to the Army I knew from the last disaster I lived through, the ice storm of 98. Yes, this is my second national disaster. No electricity, heat, water, phone...for 32 days. In the cold Canadian January and February months. The Army cooked our meals, gave us a place to shower, came into our homes for a cup and a chat, checked our wood stoves, made our lives easier and I will never forget them.
The hard truth came quickly for the flood refugees. This Army was here to police us. For absolutely no reason. Really? We were going to loot? Loot what? Soggy mattresses? We only riot after Stanley Cup finals, even the PM should bloody well know that.
If some twit was going to paddle a canoe, break my window, take my TV, all this without a right to bare arms, say boo, and try to paddle that sucker across the current - hell he deserved my TV! Not one house got broken into. Not one. Why? It''s just not what we do. The worst fear we had was someone taking our canoe out of basic need. Besides, the provincial police were navigating the waters, roads, knocking on doors, chatting us up...24/7 they were doing a fantastic bang on job. The municipalities too and their wonderful firemen.
2 disasters, same Army, same country, 2 completely different missions. What up? You'll need to ask our Conservative PM I imagine and his secretary of defense. Then again, maybe they read the hand book on Katrina and thought that went fabulously well...
The soldiers were needed for physical man power, not for patrolling in full war gear. Fed up, I just walked up to a bunch of soldiers one day and asked them why there weren't helping. No denials. They told me the truth. And they felt bad about it. They were also getting flack from angry refugees in stores if they wore their uniforms. I was sad to hear that. I told them not to worry, most people guessed it was higher up, reasonable people. The soldiers couldn't believe how useless they felt in their own province.
They were, after all, just coming back from Afghanistan.
I'll let you know when they are done with their flood reconnaissance.