As an arborist that has been in the industry for as long as Curt McCallum has knows, when you hear tell that a major storm has whipped through an area, it means that major cleanup is the next thing to follow. The CLC Tree Services team has been on hand at many scenes where trees need 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 the worst tornado to have touched down in Ontario since 1996, packing winds upwards of 300km/hr. The devastation that was left in its wake was hard to comprehend for this community of 8000 people that touted itself as the ‘Prettiest Town in Canada’. With the downtown core badly damaged, Natural gas lines turned off for safety and a state of emergency declared, it seemed doubtful that Goderich would be able to retain its shining title.
With news of the tornado splashing across the media, people were shocked to hear details about the estimated damages. Curt was one of those people, but in his mind he was calculating the distance between his home in London and the carnage in Goderich. Only 100 kilometres separated him from the carnage of damaged homes, businesses and a mass amount of trees that were potentially at risk of causing more damage if they were not attended to as soon as possible. A quick check with his team was all it took for them to put their name on the 211 list of volunteers available to assist with the storm cleanup needed. 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 to assist you in your storm cleanup needs. It wasn’t enough for Curt though. He needed to do something more tangible to help out.
Then the phone rang requesting his help.
A 5-strong crew of CLC Tree Services men strapped on their safety gear and jumped into the truck for two days worth of storm cleanup in badly damaged areas of Goderich, where trees still posed a risk to buildings and the people below them. They were met by a group from Samaritan’s Purse Canada, and set to work to assess the damages and immediately start removal of any trees or limbs that were considered at risk. Samaritan’s Purse is a non-denominational evangelical Christian organization that has been providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world since 1970, and they were there to assist families who might otherwise fall through the cracks as far as being able to afford tree removal services.
As the first day dawned, the crews from CLC Tree Services and Samaritan’s Purse were joined by 35 community volunteers to tackle the job at hand. Chain saws buzzed and damaged limbs began to litter the ground again. This time being lowered to the ground safely with ropes and pulleys.
High in the trees, men worked to tie off thick branches, before severing them from the main trunk and sending them down to the waiting crews for disposal.
There were long hours involved, but the gratitude of the families who were helped, and their surrounding neighbours, was a hefty reward. People shared stories of where they were when the tornado swept through, and looking around at the damages that remained, it was a miracle that more people weren’t hurt.
The extensive array of tarps that covered damaged roofs, attested to the fact that the tornado was wide-reaching. One bystander estimated that every other house on her street was condemned. She had watched the tornado rip through from the safety of her front porch with her dog – “where she always watched storms from”, she declared. One gutsy lady. Lucky too.
At the end of their stint in Goderich, the men from CLC Tree Services 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.