American Partiers Rescued In Canada Turn To Crowdfunding To Repay Sarnia, The City That Saved Them

A group of American partiers who were rescued from drowning by a small-town Canadian police force last week has turned to crowdfunding to try to repay the town that came to their aid when they needed it the most, CBC News is reporting.

You may remember that last weekend, the Port Huron Float Down, an annual party of American boaters floating down the St. Clair River between the USA and Canada, went horribly awry. As CBC News reported at the time, high winds blew some 1,500 boaters off-course, and they wound up on the Canadian side of the river.

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Seeing that they were about to have a mass drowning on their hands if they didn’t act quickly, Canadian authorities leaped into action. Police from the small town of Sarnia, Ontario, population 72,000, with help from the Ontario Provincial Police, the Canadian Coast Guard, Canada Border Service Agency, and employees from a nearby chemical company all helped rescue the American partiers.

Peter Garapick of the Canadian Coast Guard described the scene to CBC News on Monday.

“There were Americans everywhere. There was no chance for anything floating, or people on inner tubes, to go anywhere but Canada.”

It was then that the city of Sarnia found itself at the center of something resembling an international incident. The city was suddenly home to 1,500 cold, wet, passport-less refugees, some of whom had just been saved from drowning.

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Once the refugees were safe and accounted for, the city of Sarnia mobilized efforts to get them back home. Ten Sarnia city buses were pressed into service, and the Americans were loaded onto them and driven back to the U.S. border under police escort. The Inquisitr will leave it to the reader to determine if Sarnia was trying to do right by the Americans in getting them home, or were trying to be rid of them as quickly as possible.

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley is none-too-pleased about the whole situation.

“When you’ve got over 1,500 people — many of them over-refreshed, to use the phrase — on your doorstep, you have to handle them in a manner that doesn’t lead to any other issues.”

Sarnia has estimated that the cost of the rescue will come to around $8,100 or about $5.40 per rescued American floater. Most of the cost of the rescue will be borne by Canadian taxpayers, and a large portion of the bill will fall on the residents of Sarnia.

Aaron Wudrick of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation wants the American government to kick in.

“If you have situations where people are knowingly, willingly, recklessly putting themselves in situations that are going to require considerable use of taxpayer-funded resources, it might be appropriate in those cases for the government to seek some cost recovery.”

American Joe Wiedenbeck is having none of that. Even though he wasn’t one of the Americans rescued that day, he doesn’t want to see his northern neighbors on the hook for the cost of rescuing his drunken brethren. He’s started a GoFundMe page to raise the money to pay Sarnia back.

“Let’s show our Canadian neighbors how awesome we are! They are claiming nearly $9,000 in costs because of the “unsanctioned” float down. If you floated then donate $5.00. I didn’t participate but it sure seems neighborly.”

Donors from both sides of the border appear to be chipping in. Larry Edmonds of Sarnia says he’s embarrassed by the way city officials are acting: “We are neighbours and should expect to help each other out occasionally with no reimbursement required.” And Daniel Harding would like to see the two countries participate in a joint Point Huron Float Down together in a show of international neighborliness: “I would like to see Sarnia and Port Huron do a float down together.”

As of this writing, the crowdfunding campaign to reimburse Canada for rescuing the American partiers has raised just over $2,280 of its $9,000 goal.

[Image via Shutterstock/Artindo]