Bradford Landscaping one of many businesses rallying to help tornado victims (6 photos)
“There are hundreds of people ready to help … it’s really nice to know that this is the kind of community we live in,” says the company owner, who is trying to help with the cleanup
Within minutes of news that a tornado had landed and ripped a neighborhood southeast of Barrie, local businesses and residents were already looking for ways to help.
The EF-2 tornado, confirmed by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) as Thursday afternoon in Barrie, left hundreds of residents without electricity and many without homes.
In a video posted on social media on July 15 at around 10:30 pm, Mayor Jeff Lehman commented on what he called the “incredible support” he received from residents and businesses outside the St. Gabriel Evacuation Center School shows a crowded table with food, drinks and snacks to help those affected by the tornado.
“Thank you, Barrie, for all that is already being done. We have plenty of supplies here for people who need it. This is just another indication of how this community holds together in difficult times, ”he said.
An update from Prince William Way from the tornado-hit area. Our town is already showing its spirit and the first responders here have done a remarkable job. So much help has arrived and been offered. Thank you all. pic.twitter.com/QaMnHdv2cB
– Jeff Lehman (@Mayor_Jeff) July 16, 2021
Others repeated these feelings.
“Humanity, you scored a point tonight … Local business and parishioners got organized in minutes and were able to feed countless families from the goodness of their hearts tonight,” Ken Spurvey wrote in a Facebook post last night.
“Although that night was a tragedy for some families, community spirit, generosity and togetherness saw even the coldest of hearts warm,” he continued. “Remain loyal in spite of adversity and you will be unstoppable in good times.”
In a second video released this morning, Lehman said dozens of families have already received help from the Red Cross and rescue workers are preparing to begin the “difficult and detailed work” of assessing the disaster area.
While Alectra crews repaired power lines in the area and cleared the road for ambulance vehicles, Lehman urged people to stay out of the area as the road is still closed to traffic and only residents can get on and off.
“If you are concerned or want to support please call the Red Cross or if you have a specific donation please call Service Barrie at 726-4242,” he said. “It could have been so much worse. It’s just amazing that we haven’t had any more serious injuries. Thanks to everyone out there for offering help. “
Nikki Glahn, the founder of Barrie Families Unite (BFU), told BarrieToday that she was not surprised by the flood of support she saw not only on the BFU website but on all social media. However, Glahn noted that officials are demanding that donations in kind no longer be dropped off at the evacuation center as they are busy.
“(It’s) incredible and more help is needed, but right now it takes some time to take a deep breath as we evaluate all of the donations we have received and figure out what to do next,” she said. “We were in the warehouse this morning and brought two truckloads of essentials.”
They’ve also lined up with Home Depot to help out with shelves, tables, refrigerators, and some reflective vests. “Local companies (are) on the advance.”
Glahn noted that the BFU has put in place a facility to electronically transfer funds when specific donations are no longer accepted, which allows the organization to track donations to ensure that they are serving that specific purpose.
“We love the enthusiasm of everyone who sends messages and … comments, and what we are doing right now is to track all incoming messages of offers of help that have reached us so that if we need to act, we can find those offers quickly again, ”said Glahn.
“The good news is that from all the reports we’ve heard, things are being managed very well and the best of our town are using all their skills to ensure that everyone in our community is safe and cared for immediately after such a traumatic event . “
Glahn added that while the BFU appreciates all of the offers and eager proposals to raise funds, it does not yet know what the needs are.
“Hug your loved ones and be ready to act as soon as we know how we are needed. We promise to keep you updated as soon as we know more details. We believe that our work (BFU community) will start as soon as the families are allowed to return to assess the damage etc. So we need to be prepared for a longer period of time to help these families get back on their feet. ”
BFU officials also praise the construction workers who worked in the Mapleview and Prince William area, noting that when the tornado hit they took action immediately, clearing the streets of debris so emergency vehicles could get through, directing and contributing to the traffic that they are in control of the situation.
Dave McLean, owner of Bradford Landscaping, is one of the many companies who will be providing all the support they can get after yesterday’s event.
“Our company is based in Simcoe County … and I and my family live in Barrie, in the Mapleview area. We have a one and a half year old (baby), so I could only imagine what condition we would be in if something should happen, ”he said on Friday morning, adding that it was not a matter of course to offer help. “When you have the resources (to help) … it’s not always about the money.”
McLean said a crew of seven volunteers would drive a couple of trucks into the area this afternoon to see if they can help clean up.
“We want to help everyone who needs them, be it moving goods, moving furniture, allowing them into their properties, or cleaning up,” he said.
“The guys are all happy to help and will likely be out all weekend if necessary,” said McLean. “It’s devastating, but it’s also really heartwarming to see that I’m definitely not the only one (offering to help). There are hundreds of people on social media ready to help, so many different businesses and guys with big trucks. It’s really nice to know that this is the kind of community we live in. “
Several Facebook groups, including Barrie Tornado Volunteers and Barrie Tornado Resident Support Group, have also been formed and have grown more than 1,200 members in less than 12 hours.
Christian Linkert owns The Sun Emporium, which is located on Big Bay Point Road, about three miles from the location of the tornado. He created a Barrie Strong fundraising page on his company’s website and told BarrieToday on July 16 at 11 a.m. that $ 2,000 had already been raised to support the victims.
“This community has supported me and enabled me to survive this pandemic, and now it’s my turn to return the favor,” he said. “How could I not get up immediately when this community has done so much for me and is in need.”
GoodLife Fitness Barrie also launched its facility earlier this morning, providing showers, shampoo, conditioner, shower trays and mirrors, and cell phone charging sockets to help everyone in the Barrie area hit by yesterday’s tornado.
“This has been a pretty scary day for everyone in the Barrie area, and knowing we could finally reopen our club, we wanted to do our best to help,” said Ella Bennett, GoodLife Fitness Divisional Manager for the Barrie site .
“For me and our club members, these are our neighbors, friends and family who were hit by the tornado. So it was a breeze to open our doors for a little bit of relief,” she said.
“If you are evicted, we want you to know that you have a hot shower with shampoo and soap, a place to charge your phone, or even a break in the air conditioning.”
While Bennett said they didn’t keep a record, they saw a handful of people walk in to take advantage of the offer this morning, and the club’s staff are feeling a mixture of excitement about the final reopening after the closure, but also Disbelief over the damage to the area from the storm.
“People often call our club their third place – so they have their home, their work, and then the gym. But since people’s homes have been harmed, we want people to come for a shower, to charge their phones, or just for a bit of fellowship and support, “said Bennett.
“This can be her temporary home away from home,” she said, noting that the facility will continue to be offered to those in need for the next two weeks, but they will extend it should the need arise beyond that.
“The hearts of the entire GoodLife family go with the people who were injured or homes damaged in the tornado. We are all trying to recover from the pandemic and we have this on our plates now … but we all really believe that by coming together we can come out stronger mentally and physically than ever, ”said Bennett.