Most Manitobans know the frustration of being stuck after a snowstorm or being stranded with a dead battery. One local group hopes to ease that stress and give people a boost.
Chris Mills started the Facebook group GET ME OUT OF HERE in November 2021. He got the idea after he saw more than a dozen cars lodged in deep snow in Winnipeg’s Elmwood neighbourhood following a bad storm.
“There were people stuck everywhere,” Mills says. “Everybody said the same thing: ‘CAA is going to be a long wait. We can’t get out. We’ve got to get somewhere.’ So I just pulled everybody out.”
The private Facebook group has grown to nearly 4,000 members, and Mills thinks they’ll surpass that number within the next month. He says he never expected so many people to join the group and offer to tow or boost those in need.
“It’s just people helping people around Manitoba,” Mills says.
This year’s above-average temperatures have led to fewer people calling for roadside assistance, despite January’s two-week cold snap where he says things got a little busier.
During previous years, he would sometimes spend four or five hours after his full-time job responding to posts that popped up in the Facebook group.
It can get tiring, but members of GET ME OUT OF HERE offer their support as a kind gesture for other Winnipeggers and Manitobans.
“If somebody needs help and nobody’s taking care of it ... I can go scoot and get a couple done,” Mills says. “My intentions for the group is just to watch it grow, watch it expand and see how many more people we can help. This is unreal.”
But Mills doesn’t oversee the group’s activity by himself.
Truck driver Tony Cardamone met Mills through a truck club and has been lending a hand since joining the group at the end of 2021.
Cardamone says he’s amazed to see how many group members regularly go out and assist others.
Once the spring and summer weather hits, there’s often less to do, but he still sees the odd post about someone getting stuck.
“In summertime, you get the occasional guy getting pulled out of the mud because he’s decided to be funny and realizes he’s not that funny,” Cardamone says.
Mills and Cardamone say their most memorable tow involved someone getting their truck stuck “somewhere he shouldn’t have gone.”
The person’s vehicle had sunk down to its axles until Mills and Cardamone pulled it out. They said they had to drive the long way around some trees to access the vehicle so they wouldn’t get stuck, too.
“I enjoy it,” Cardamone says. “It goes to show that there’s still people out there that have a good heart and are willing to help, and that’s what we’re all about.”
Published in Volume 78, Number 17 of The Uniter (February 8, 2024)