WEST CARLETON – For the first time since West Carleton Disaster Relief (WCDR) formed, the volunteer disaster organization will have a new set of co-chairs.

The WCDR held its first annual general meeting last night (Oct. 19) virtually and online, as is the style of the times.

Following the meeting, the WCDR announced two new chairs to lead the organization moving forward.

Former WCDR flood director Heather Lucente and WCDR director Kevin Colwill will replace outgoing co-chairs Greg Patacairk and Alex Lesnick.

“Formally thanking outgoing chair Greg Patacairk and previous co-chair Alex Lesnick,” WCDR vice president, NGOs and media Angela Bernhardt released in a statement today (Oct. 20).

Bernhardt says the new co-chairs will slide right in to their new positions.

“Heather and Kevin bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to our leadership, through their volunteer and professional careers,” Bernhardt said.

 Meanwhile, Bernhardt says WCDR continues to be an important organization in the community.

“WCDR continues to support our community in preparation for possible future disaster, supporting the local volunteer response to disaster In West Carleton; connecting victims to volunteers and other services, supporting those affected in long term recovery,” Bernardt said.

The WCDR was officially formed in 2018 shortly after the Sept. 21 tornado. The WCDR is a volunteer, not-for-profit organization that fundraised for and distributed money to those in need during the recovery stage of the tornado as well as the 2019 spring flooding. The organization also worked as a communication link between those affected by the spate of natural disasters and the several service groups and agencies providing assistance. The WCDR worked as a lobby group to keep the issues affecting those recovering from disaster in the forefront, while lobbying government organizations to commit to providing public funds to recovery. (West Carleton Online has pages and pages of stories on the WCDR’s ongoing support to the West Carleton community).

In the past, WCDR has been reactive to ongoing events – prior to 2017, no one in West Carleton would suspect the area would be hit by three natural disasters in three years. A hastily, well-organized volunteer group, Constance Bay Flood Relief responded to the 2017 flood. Many of those volunteers made up the founding volunteers of WCDR – an organization that found itself, in less than a year, responding to two natural disasters simultaneously.

Aside from the current COVID-19 pandemic, West Carleton has been relatively disaster free since the spring of 2019.

That has allowed WCDR to be more proactive.

The organization has focused on preparedness and has now focused best practices advice on three information campaigns on potential environmental issues that could face the West Carleton area.

The WCDR has recently released three information packets based on preparedness for flood, wildfire and blackout potential disasters.