These are certainly trying times we are facing in light of the tornado that tore through our town in August. So many buildings and homes have to be demolished. As much as I realize it has to happen, it doesn’t change the emotions I feel when I see the changing landscape. It breaks my heart when something I always thought would be there isn’t.
Our house made out much better than most in our neighbourhood. Soffit and fascia and shingles off, but we have a roof still. Broken windows and cracks in the walls, but they can be repaired. The ceiling came down in the kitchen, yet held until my kids and the little boy they were babysitting made it to safety in the basement. Thankfully, because there was glass everywhere. There was glass embedded in our furniture. I’m leaving some as is, to remind us how incredibly lucky we were that day.
We live at the corner of Elgin East and Cambria. Directly across from where the Carter’s and Moulton’s house once stood. Their houses are gone now, but we are looking forward to the day when they, and all our neighbours, are home again.
Another important part of the landscape is missing too. I will drive out of my way to avoid coming home through the five points. You could never see our house before. But you can now. See, there was a beautiful 70+ year old maple tree that hid our house. It split down to the ground that day, yet fell on the road instead of the house. My son’s favourite climbing tree was uprooted too; it also fell on the road. If either of these trees had fallen the other way, my story would have drastically changed. My pear tree took a beating that day, but it is still standing and I’m hopeful that spring will revive it and maybe the birds and squirrels will come back and enjoy it again. Its neighbour, a younger maple, was broken in half, and the roots were broken. I finally had to admit there was no saving it. Ironically, the only tree that showed new growth was the uprooted stump.
Our place has no wind shelter now. There will be no shade next summer. This is one of those realities we will deal with for a long time. Those trees were here long before we were.
I have never considered myself a “tree hugger”. But looking around our once shady, now barren, neighbourhood has turned me into one. The sounds we hear are excavators, dump trucks and cement trucks. Not the leaf truck. Leaf pickup is not necessary here this year. I’m not sure when it will be again.
You can clearly see the path the tornado took that day. The tarps are being replaced with roofs, destroyed homes are being replaced with foundations and framing. Next year at this time we will hopefully have our neighbours back. But what will still be missing, is the hundreds of trees that were destroyed.
Talbot Realty graciously gave out trees the day of the Out of The Storm event. I didn’t go pick one up, but can’t begin to describe how overwhelming it was when I left the house to find one sitting on the patio. They had some left over and dropped them off at places like ours. I realize they thought they were just giving out baby trees, but it was so much more. They gave me hope that someday that leaf truck would need to come down our street again.
The Goderich Trees Project is a group who also wants to give hope to the residents of the tornado path. Although it is too late to plant more trees now, they are taking applications for spring planting. They are soliciting donations to ensure that every tenant and property owner who are also missing their trees get one. They recognize, as I’m sure you all do, that buildings will go up, quickly, but trees grow only so much each year. I have completed my application for a tree, but will try to forget about it for now. But the promise of being considered for a mature tree has changed the way I think. Instead of driving around, being jealous of those fortunate people who still have trees, I smile and think, “Someday”. I have given up on my plans of asking people if that tree growing in their ditch on country roads would be missed. That is how desperate I had become to have trees in our yard again.
I understand that The Goderich Trees Project has asked to be linked to the Town of Goderich website. What a great way to bring attention to this worthwhile project. We are all residents of the same town, but as individuals, our priorities vary. That applies to people everywhere. Some people may want to contribute to the disaster relief fund, some to the heritage rebuilding, some to the replacement of trees on private property. We should continue to work together to get through this, with the common goal of restoring our town to the beauty it is known for. To that end, I respectfully request that you consider this request on behalf of myself, and the many other people who lost trees that day on their properties.
85 Toronto Street,