So, by the end of the first day we were at the end of Mill Road. Everything was starting to wind down by then…….as in…..the chipper yard had told us that they
would only be open til 6:30 as those boys were all Bushed, pardon the pun. We had “flash” mobbed about five different properties in town by then and were only going on what we saw, as in people needing help and what we heard. Here is one of my asides. I got added by a random guy on facebook about three months ago who just happens to be related to somebody who is related to me and we had
things in common. Like he is a recent injured out soldier from Afghanistan ( one of my best friends is a retired Master Warrant Officer, Airborne) He was working on family history research and just happened to have ties to Goderich, same as me. So, like I said, we got to that property late in the day so couldn’t do much and I had to text to get him turned around before he came out there.
The amazing thing for me at the end of that day, on top of all the other things, was when I met the home owner and asked him what happened and where he was when IT happened. Turned out he lost his satellite reception and decided to take the dog out for a pee and go for a smoke when he saw the black cloud coming. Sat on his porch and watched it…………until it turned to hail and he heard the freight train coming. Telling me all this while a group of about 20 volunteers is standing around listening…….the damage to the back of his house. “Do you mind if I go around and look?” No, and he led us all around his house and showed us the parts where tree limbs were embedded in his siding and how the air conditioner that started in the back bedroom window of his house, punched through two inside walls and landed in the front bedroom. How his sun room was MIA but you could kind of tell where it went by the debris trail down over the embankment. How he got back in the house and laid on top of his dog on the kitchen floor, with his wife thankfully, in the basement.
Insert dog stories. My dog Sam, who never goes into our basement, which is actually a cellar kept going down there for two day proceeding the Tornado. I would come home from work and see pretty Pearl and wonder where Sam was so would call him. Yup, up from the cellar he would come. Two darling old senior clients of mine who were just on the fringe of the worst damage told me the story about their “Queenie”……barking at the front door for about half an hour before IT hit. She would bark at the door while backing up and they would get up to see who was there, only to find no body and scold the dog to lay down. Queenie apparently was having none of it and proceeded to bark at that door until the glass smashed in. Both old girls and dog are fine.
I suppose it’s Friday in the story now and I get Thomas out of bed again and off we go a little early to be on the Mill Road property before the crowd comes and to get a heads up from Luke. “Just keep the drive way clear” he tells me. Ok, no problem and proceed to direct traffic and tell people where to go and what to do…………right until the bus load of Mennonites shows up. If you’ve never seen a bus load of Mennonites I don’t know what to tell you accept stand back and WATCH. Humble, simple men so well organized without even a word to each other. All I can do is direct them to the homeowner who tells us he needs a twenty five foot swath cut around the back of his shed, read two bay driving shed……..and stand back. Those boys had that poor old ripped up driving shed dissembled and laying in Keep heaps and Discard heaps in less than two hours. PLUS had the twenty five foot swath cut. Bloody amazing, have I said I was bloody amazed? Reminds me of ants on Gulliver. Watched at one point as one boy took a sixty foot tree with the only thing left of it being the trunk and LAID it down between hydro lines and a guys house with only about ten feet to spare either side.
I only hauled about five loads of brush off that day because Luke had gotten the Word out and their were men and women coming from far and wide asking what they could do. And must say here that I was thankful that, that was ALL I had to do. By this time, the powers that be had decided that they could open town up………..and here came the Tornado Tourists…….and sorry but the other residents of our community that had been “Locked Out” ie: people that live outside the town limits. I will admit freely here that my courteous driver status should be taken away from me………..and if I pulled out in front of you and gave you the V for Victory sign instead of the finger, I suppose someday you will forgive me. I took my helper guys into town for lunch at the Knights of Columbus and had to deek and dive all over the place to get there.
Here is another story that will stay with me for the rest of my life. Upon entering the Knights and seeing all the throngs of people, doling out food and receiving it I spotted an old client of mine standing across that great big room. Arms across his chest just looking through the crowd. I stopped and watched him for a few seconds wondering what he was doing and discovered, nothing, just standing there looking. I decide to go over to him to see what’s up and to say hi because I hadn’t seen him in a while. And this is the part where I learned, just to listen. He had been at the Walmart with his child when the hydro went out and the store employees started trying to herd everyone to the front of the store because that apparently, is store policy. He told me as how he refused to go the the front because he could hear the wind……..and then the hail and he figured he and his son were safer away from those great big sheet glass windows. It was about that time that he said his son started screaming because of the Sound. Fast forward to the part where they make their way to the front of the store and see that something isn’t right. He straps his son into his car seat and tries to get “home” where his wife and small daughter are……on the Other side of the Tornado’s swath. He told me that he got as far as St. Patricks St. before he got stopped dead in the van what with all the hydro lines down and trees and debris…………all the while his son still screaming and crying. He started running child in arms through all that. I’m trying not to cry. And then he pulls a prescription out of his pocket to show me. I can’t sleep Jod………..I couldn’t protect my family, and that’s my Job. Oh God Man, you did the best that you could…………how can you tell a man that’s it’s going to be alright when he couldn’t stand in front of a Tornado?……………so, off to the Trauma meetings at the East Street Train Station I go.