Townspeople rally to rebuild following devastating tornado
Kim Burgsma Special to ChristianWeek
GODERICH, ON—At the end of August an F3 tornado whipped through what Queen Elizabeth once called “the prettiest town in Canada” leaving behind the most astonishing destruction I’ve ever personally seen. Some businesses are still closed
or relocated. Families are still liv- ing with family members or in temporary rental accommoda- tions. Te landscape is void of the trees Goderich was so proud of. Our town looks oddly empty. Until you meet the people.
Hearts are full of hope and opti- mistic smiles abound in Goderich. It’s hard to knock down a small community. From dawn to dusk hundreds of people could be seen in the streets, post-tornado, work- ing together to clean up fallen trees and scattered debris. Impromptu concerts sprung up on dilapidated porches to cheer fallen neighbour- hoods and friendly hugs of com- fort were frequent. Churches worked together
as one to provide shelter, meals, goods and services for the dis- placed and volunteers. Trinity Christian Reformed Church pro- vided more than 2,500 dinners in eight days, while Te Salvation Army provided a similar amount of breakfast and lunches. Wilma Hiemstra, organizer of
the dinner meals, says she was especially grateful for the meat generously donated by the Ontario Cattlemen and God’s daily provi- sion of volunteers to prepare, cook and clean up from the meals. Marcel MacIntyre, who lives in
Goderich, was in Haiti for relief work six months and again 12 months aſter Hurricane Katrina. She says, “Te contrast is huge.
It was like an army here, but like chaos in Haiti. We are so fortunate to be here with good leadership and resources. Goderich is further ahead on clean up in three weeks than Haiti was in 12 months.” And indeed it’s true. Relief
services such as the Mennonite Disaster Services, Salvation Army and the Red Cross were on scene right away and were able to help with immediate needs. Hundreds of people who were instantly out of work due to the devastation in the town’s business core and the destruction of the salt mine, which
The small community of Goderich, Ontario came together to rebuild following a devastating tornado at the end of August.
Courtesy Rob Boyce/Your Life in Stills
alone employs 458 people, joined students home for summer break to help with the clean up. Other relief services such as
Samaritan’s Purse came equipped to help with outside clean up, but since so much had been done, they instead helped individu- al homeowners with clean-up of their homes. Tony and Jenny DeWeerd of Christian Reformed World Relief Committee came for
together. A vivid scene in my mind is
a needs assessment and say they were “amazed” at how quickly and thoroughly the disaster site had been cleaned up. Each orga- nization is eager to assist with the future needs in the community. While there are still challenges
leſt in the wake of the F3 tornado, the community has drawn closer
the smiling faces at a community church service held on August 28, hosted by the Goderich Ministerial Association. More than 1,000 peo- ple were in attendance and spirits were high. Denominational lines disappeared, if only for a day. It was just a taste of what is to come when we will worship for eternity as One Church, as it was always meant to be.
Kim Bursgma is an award winning landscape designer and author of Almost Eden.
To Dust They Shall Return...
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#3-2061 Logan Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R2R 0J1 • November 01, 2011 • 9
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