It was a clean out and clean-up day in Roche Percee on Saturday.
Dennis Fichter, one of the members of the village's Disaster Restoration Committee, said that by early afternoon a group of between 50 and 75 volunteers had managed to clear away about 100 to 200 yards of heavy debris, including flood-damaged appliances and other furniture that had been collecting on front lawns and backyards ever since the flood waters began to recede in July.
“It was becoming a sanitation and safety issue for the community,” Fichter said.
With the assistance of Regens Disposal, who eventually ended up carrying out about 10, 30-yard dumpster loads, and with even more help from oilpatch companies and local contractors, the removal work proceeded smoothly and steadily, he said.
“The volunteers were going in and dragging it out of the tree lines, bringing it to the front of the streets and then the heavy equipment was loading it all up and putting it in the dumpsters for hauling away. The emphasis was on the stuff lying around the village. There was a bunch of stuff that floated downstream and ended up here, stuff that didn't come from here,” said Fichter.
Then there were the items that did belong in Roche Percee, things like couches, chairs, fridges, stoves, deep-freezers, bedding that had to be removed from water- logged-homes that had been inundated with flood waters earlier this year.
Many of the homes that were on the valley floor in the village have since been condemned meaning a major rebuilding project faces the community, so it began with a significant first step with the clean-up project on Saturday.
Fichter said the work began in earnest around 8:30 a.m. with the arrival of the first batch of volunteers and some farm equipment that was used for grappling and hauling, then a Turnbull's Excavating crew arrived with additional heavy equipment to speed the project along even more quickly.
He said the final volunteer team wrapped up their work probably around 5:30 to 6 p.m.
There is still ample evidence remaining that gives proof to the devastation that was inflicted on the community, but Fichter said there is now also a clear sign that “we've come a long way in getting some things back to where they should be.” He added that doing this type of work can lift the spirits of a few in the village because they see things going forward now ... not backward.