Darlings Island — As the flood waters rise to record levels in southwestern New Brunswick, many everyday heroes are shining in the affected communities.
On Darlings Island — located about 30 kilometres from Saint John — a man known as “Uber Rob” has gained national recognition for ferrying people to and from shore with his personal boat free of charge.
Now, another local hero is gaining fame for his efforts to save animals from the flood waters covering the island. While his efforts are significant, he is not gaining the same kind of notoriety as his human-loving neighbour.
“I was out in my boat keeping an eye on my property,” said 63-year-old Eric Rongare. “I kept seeing them paddling around in the water…looking so tired, and I admit I took pity on them. I guess I’m just a big softie,” he laughed.
He’s not talking about cats and dogs or even raccoons. Rongare has been rescuing swimming rats from the swiftly flowing flood waters. He figures at this point that he’s saved more than 100 rats during the past three days, and he is giving them temporary shelter and a nutritious meal in his barn.
“I fished one out with my fishing net, then two, and then I just kept going,” he said. “And I’ll tell you, they didn’t go voluntarily either! It’s like they didn’t want to be saved. Those little bastards screamed and thrashed about and gnashed their teeth. And I was like, ‘Hey, I’m trying to help you, chill out!’ It was hilarious!”
When asked about their neighbour’s heroic efforts, the reaction was decidedly mixed. “I’m sorry, I just threw up a little in my mouth, I can’t talk right now,” said one resident who preferred not to encourage Rongare in any way.
When asked what’s next for his impromptu animal shelter, Rongare was undecided. “First, I should probably go to the outpatients to get all of these bites look at. I’m getting pretty woozy. Say, do you happen to know the symptoms for rabies?” he asked with a frothing mouth.