Monday, September 12, 2011

Gone in Sixteen Seconds

I often feel a reluctance when I am about to leave home for an extended time.  I think about all the worst things that might happen in my absence.  Not in my wildest dreams could I have imagined the F3 tornado that occurred just a few weeks ago in my home town of Goderich on Sunday August 21

I had left for Prince Edward Island for two weeks vacation on the Saturday.  I heard the news Monday morning.  I was unable to make contact with anyone at home for more than 48 hours.  I watched the national news and poured through Face book and You tube posts with a fierce intensity. It was heartbreaking.

Although I am now located 3 blocks east of the Square and counting my blessings by being 2 blocks away from the damage zone, I did have my business and home located above a store in the Courthouse Square 2 years ago. 

I went for my first walk downtown last night in my old neighbourhood.  The initial damage was compounded by water damage.  We might lose 60% of our downtown buildings.  Many families have lost their homes and all belongings.  Blue tarps cover most of the affected neighbourhood  roofs. Huge swathes of the town are devoid of trees.  Many business people are deciding whether to reopen or not.  I feel so sad.  A major part of the healing process around trauma is being able to tell our personal story.  Since I've arrived home I have heard many such stories. 

There are two things that boggle my mind: 
First of all, I can't understand how people survived with such little injury.  It is unfortunate that there was the loss of one man, but given the speed and violence of the tornado, I wonder why there wasn't a death toll of 101.  There were some injuries, but nothing like you might expect when one considers that families were huddling as their homes were being destroyed around them.  It took only sixteen seconds for the tornado to travel from one end of town to the other.  There must be angels.

Secondly, I was amazed to see how quickly the townspeople rallied together to help one another.  Goderich really showed it's spirit during the cleanup and recovery phase. Go to the grocery store, go for a stroll, stand in line for the mail; now everybody knows everybody.  A local volunteer group called the Goderich Tornado Clean Up Hub now have over 700 members. 

It is true that Goderich is facing a long process of recovery, however the people of Goderich are showing that a community is not about it's buildings, its about it's people.  I feel really fortunate to live here.

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