After lunch on that second day we headed back out to the Mill Road site and I just mostly got to stand back and watch an amazing group of people working together. I learned a valuable lifes lesson in here as in “there are No gender lines” when you are doing this type of work. Men and women pay vast deference to each other and it warms me cockles. When the boys stand back and take a turn while a girl tries to untangle branches. I’ve always thought they paid people in the bobby pin factory to mix them all up. Very similar.
The first property of about 5 acres is almost cleaned up because now there was a body of about a hundred people on it. Working in small groups. It became necessary for Luke to contact another homeowner across the road. By this time we had heard the rumours about the Ministry of Labour fining people without chain saw certificates and taking their chain saws away. That’s fair. We were under an S.O.E. and had always worked with the motto of “safety first” anyways. We had a few bad rubs with town hall by that point. Understanding that they had to take a firm stance on the issue. We live in a litigious society. I “get” that. But the difference I think is that when someone sues a municipality or a big box store. They are under the mistaken impression that we don’t ALL pay in the end. When volunteers show up on your property to get something done in one day that it would have taken two months for you to do? Use a little common sense here and give my intelligence a break. What ever you do, don’t burst my bubble. The people that came out to help other people had nothing but the purest of intentions. Period. There is joy in watching people, just watching out for each other. That afternoon a lady approached me and said “Jody, I’ve got a heart condition so I can’t do any of the heavy stuff, is there something I CAN do?” Oh hells ya, take this rake and make it nice and bless your heart. She raked away happily for about three hours in that awful heat.
There was that day gone………..come home and can’t sleep because my brain refuses to shut down………..thinking, thinking, thinking, probably still running on tornado adrenaline too. We had a new job out at Benmiller on private property. We had to register our volunteers so had set a table up to do so….. S.O.E. again. The properties out in Benmiller are in Central Huron and on that first day I had the pleasure of meeting both Jim Ginn and Brian Barnim whom happen to be the Reeve of Central Huron and one of it’s councilors respectively. I met Brain the day before out at Mill Rd. as he pulled in with a truck and trailer. There was somewhere in there that I remember poking him in the belly not knowing his status. Would I do that again, ya, probably……… and had directed him to the best place to pull in little knowing who he was. Just another fantastic person that had shown up to help. He said to me that first day that he just got a phone call and came out to help…….that was Friday. Saturday morning I got out to Benmiller early to make sure our Volunteer “sign up” table was there and had people to man/woman it. I had passed a guy driving down the side of the road with an older tractor hauling what looked like a winch. Walked up to him when he got there and shook his hand and said we were glad to have him and thanks for coming. I did say I didn’t know who they were right?
I hauled brush for a while and fed the wood chipper, took a break and decided that maybe, me and my truck could be of better use elsewhere. So explained my leaving to the homeowner and headed back to town. Driving up and down the streets I came across a girl that was raking her yard all by herself . I had attended one of the Trauma meetings at the East Street Train Station the afternoon before and “got” how very important it was to just listen. To hold the space with her so we could talk about it. Part of my heart breaking as she tells me that her kids are going to miss the old pear tree that they used to get a snack from. How sad she was that the tree at the front of their property looked like it was going to make it…….until a tree guy discovered the huge crack. Her boys were sure going to miss their climbing tree. How incredibly thankful she was to be alive. Another sleepless night.
My business gets back up and running Saturday of that first week. Have to drive around the “local traffic only” barricades to get there but what the heck. Police still stationed at the end of our street blocking the Square and we start to hear rumours that whole blocks are going to have to come down………..still not absolutely confirmed. I could have screamed half way through that day when I wandered over to the window, looked down the street and saw it half full of camera toting people that had passed under the yellow caution tape to get a “better” picture. Don’t these people know that people have fallen to their deaths at the Grand Canyon……….trying to get a “better” picture? The policeman had apparently taken a little p break or something. You should have seen them scatter when that Boy got back. I stood and watched hoping he would whip out his ticket book………but no deal. They just got back in their vehicles and drove off. What did they say at the trauma meeting……oh ya, “we are acting completely normal in an abnormal situation.” Must be why I find myself so short tempered these days 😦
We were ALL effected by this tornado but some to a hell of a lot worse degree than others. While you or I may have been inconvenienced by not being able to get to town easily and your car got trashed with hail dents. There are people here who lived through that Freight Train and survived and came out to start to fathom just what had happened. Homes destroyed, businesses gone, just gone. I still to this day can’t watch the videos of IT or look at any more pictures of smashed things or ripped apart trees. It’s too bloody much, some days ….it’s just too much! Keeping a firm lid on the tears.