Over the years, Brad Tesarski and Deerboine Hutterite Colony have enjoyed a reciprocal relationship.
Tesarski remembers being asked to check on colony youngsters paddling down the Assiniboine River who hadn’t returned home as quickly as expected. The girls were more than alright, enjoying a leisurely ride.
That was maybe when their bond first forged, Tesarski reasoned, maybe a dozen years ago.
Colony members have since cleared snow off his driveway and offered help during power outages, while Tesarski has used his electrical know-how to set up the sound system for Deerboine’s Christmas concerts.
Last week, in the midst of a blizzard that walloped Westman and left travellers stranded, another favour was called in.
On the evening of Mar. 6, Tesarski, who lives outside Alexander, was concerned. His wife was among dozens of people stuck in their vehicle on the Trans-Canada Highway as winter roared outside. One of his first calls was to the colony, curious to know if they could lend a helping hand.
Jack Hofer, a member of the neighbouring colony, knew all about this "mess" of a blizzard.
He was stuck on the highway earlier that night, but was able to escape when he told a RCMP officer his 80-year-old passenger couldn’t stay in a vehicle overnight.
Tesarski said they resumed their conversation the next day.
"They were concerned, texting me in the morning: ‘Had I heard anything? What was going on?’" Tesarski recalled. "That’s when they said, let’s get a couple guys together and we’ll come by and head out in that direction."
Using a tractor with an attached snow blade the Deerboine colony had, they drove out.
They saw the jackknifed tractor-trailer that caused the back-up. They kept driving until they noticed vehicles lined "wall-to-wall," just east of Alexander. They found Tesarski’s wife Kristine, dropping off her — and a mother and two kids she befriended — to safety.
The rescuers got whom they wanted, but they chose to go back on the highways anyways; there were more people to pick up.
The main concern then, stated local firefighters on the ground, was getting people off the road.
In total, they went to about 15 cars and 10 or 12 highway tractors, estimated Tesarski. And they yanked out an ambulance stuck on a nearby road.
The reaction spoke for itself when the grounded travellers saw that help had arrived, Hofer said.
"I got so many smiles and waves from the cars as we got them out. They were teary, the people sitting there all night. It was very emotional to see some of them so happy."
Other people from Deerboine colony provided food to travellers at the makeshift shelter at Alexander School gymnasium.
He brushed off any accolades, saying he did what he would expect any neighbour to do if they had the equipment.
"That’s what neighbours are for, we help them out," Hofer said.
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