Any arborist who has been in the industry as long as Curt McCallum knows that when you hear about a major storm whipping through an area, major storm cleanup is sure to follow. The CLC Tree Services team has been to many locations where trees needed to be assessed, stabilized and removed as quickly as possible.
The F3 Tornado that tore through Goderich on August 21st, 2011 was no exception. Environment Canada described it as Ontario’s worst tornado to touch down since 1996. It packed winds upwards of 300 km/hr and left devastation in its wake. For the 8000 residents who tout Goderich as the ‘Prettiest Town in Canada’, it was shocking. With the downtown core badly damaged, natural gas lines turned off for safety, and a state of emergency declared, it seemed doubtful that Goderich could claim that title anymore.
Details of the estimated damages shocked people, as news of the tornado splashing across the media. Curt was one of those people, but he was already calculating the distance between London and the carnage in Goderich. Only 100 kilometres separated him from those damaged homes, businesses, and many trees that still posed severe risks.
All it took was a quick check with the CLC team for them to agree to put their names on the list offering emergency storm cleanup. They waited to hear, reading articles about scoundrels taking advantage of people in their time of need. This lead to our article about what to look for and how to hire an arborist during emergency storm cleanups. It wasn’t enough for Curt though. He needed to do something more tangible to help out.
Then the phone rang requesting his aid.
A crew of 5-strong from CLC Tree Services headed out of town for two days worth of storm cleanup in badly damaged Goderich. A group from Samaritan’s Purse Canada met them. Together they set to work to assess damages and immediately start removal of any trees or at-risk limbs. Samaritan’s Purse is a non-denominational, evangelical Christian organization which provides spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world since 1970. They were there to assist families who might not otherwise be able to afford emergency tree removal services.
As the first day dawned, 35 community members stepped up to help the crews from CLC Tree Services and Samaritan’s Purse. Chain saws buzzed and damaged limbs began to litter the ground again. This time they were lowered to the ground safely with ropes and pulleys though.
High in the trees, men worked on damaged limbs. They tied off thick branches, before severing them from the main trunk and sending them to the waiting crews below.
There were long hours involved, but the gratitude of the families and their surrounding neighbours was ample reward. People shared stories of where they were when the tornado swept through. Looking around at the damages that remained, it was a miracle more people weren’t hurt.
The extensive array of tarps that covered damaged roofs attested to the breadth of the tornado. One bystander estimated that every other house on her street was condemned. She and her dog watched the tornado rip through the neighbourhood from the safety of her front porch. “It’s where I always watch storms from”, she declared. One gutsy lady. Lucky too.
At the end of their stint in Goderich, the CLC crew returned to the warmth and safety of their homes in London. There were many in Goderich, who dreamed of the day when they could do that too. Sadly, that day might be a while in coming yet.
If you want to do something to help the families in need in Goderich, why not consider donating to the Samaritan’s Purse relief fund or to the Goderich & Area Disaster Relief fund. Curt knows that every little bit helps. That’s why he had to step in to lend a helping hand.