It was 9 p.m. on Sunday night and Princeton Posse Head Coach Mark Readman was working in his office when he got a call saying a river in town was getting high. Rain was coming down heavily and the river that flows through Princeton where the bridge is reached between 10 to 12 feet high.
“With floods you can kind of see them coming a little bit. This one kind of caught everyone off guard,” says Readman. “It was some landslides and some ground movement up stream. It kind of just crept up on us pretty quickly.”
Without hesitation, the Posse gathered and players who own trucks met at the firehall. They began assisting community members in making sandbags and helping in other ways as much as possible from 9:30 p.m. until 2 a.m. when they ran out of materials to make sandbags.
“We were driving across town, helping people put sandbags up to help with the water flow. Trying to block some of the rivers flowing over,” says Readman. “Between that and helping people get out of their houses, we were all over the map. In those situations we’re working closely with the firehall and emergency services.”
The Posse worked a couple days for 11 hours to help their community. On Wednesday, the Posse helped with an evacuee barbecue at veterans square, assisting to offload firewood and water. At that time, there wasn’t clean drinking water available, as well as natural gas.
“Anyone who was really in need, and within the community, we are all banding together and the boys were helping people get the resources that we just can’t get right now,” he said. “I’m so exceptionally proud of these men with the program and how they have stepped up. It’s really something that is bigger than ourselves and bigger than hockey. In some of these small communities, it’s really helping thy neighbour right. Everyone was willing to go to incredible lengths to try to help everyone be safe and kind of avoid the disaster.”
Another reason Readman is so proud of his players is because the Princeton community is responsible for the exceptional facility they have, the nice players lounge and team bus.
“All of these things were completely donated to the team,” he says. “We wouldn’t be able to have anything or any of these great things without the people in this community. It’s important for us to be there for them in times like this.”
As they step up for Princeton, others are offering to help them. The organization intends to stay true to its commitment in developing the players in the sport, but also as people. The Posse was able to secure practice ice time in Penticton at the South Okanagan Events Centre thanks to the Penticton Vees, Readman said. They practiced Thursday and have a session for Friday, prior to their road game in Summerland. The Posse’s home ice, the Princeton and District Arena, wasn’t impacted by the flood, but a decision was made to shut it down because of the lack of hydro and water. The building will reopen when the natural resources return.
“The players did still want to play,” says Readman, adding they want to protect home games coming up. “The boys do want to be this beacon of hope for the town and ultimately represent them well.”