THUNDER BAY – Leaders Ledger – On May 28 of this year an unprecedented disaster hit Thunder Bay. A once-in a- hundred year storm flooded hundreds of homes and the city’s sewage treatment plant. The flooding of the sewage treatment plant caused even more damage as sewage backed up in hundreds of homes, making many uninhabitable. Thousands of residences have been damaged.
The City has hired an outside investigator to determine the cause of the failure at the sewage treatment plant. I can assure Thunder Bay citizens that neither council nor administration is interested in any coverup. We want to get to the bottom of this, and the outside investigator’s findings will be made public. Necessary steps will be taken to remedy the situation.
In the meantime, all of us – council, administration, and every citizen of Thunder Bay must do whatever we can to help those who were directly affected. That’s why the city set up a disaster relief committee made up of a cross section of citizens. Its job is to raise FIVE MILLION DOLLARS BEFORE THE END OF NOVEMBER to help those whose homes were damaged, if not destroyed. That’s not a made-up figure. At least $15 million dollars in damage has been done to Thunder Bay homes. That’s a down-to-earth realistic estimate. Because the province will match 2 for 1 every dollar the Disaster Relief Committee raises, we need to raise the $5 million.
That’s right. Five Million Dollars. To date the committee has raised not quite ONE million. That means we have four million more dollars to go! In only three months!
My concern during the Council meeting on August 27 was not with the committee but I worry that somehow, the feeling in the city seems to be that the disaster is over. It is not.
But because the outward signs of the flood have disappeared, the people of Thunder Bay, the government of Ontario, and Canada seem to have forgotten we have a genuine disaster on our hands.
For the people whose homes have been flooded and been invaded by sewage, this disaster continues. Since May 28th they have been going through an agonizing time. Many of them are still suffering. The pain of losing irreplaceable family heirlooms and valuables still lingers. Many lost entire basements. For some this was their primary living space. So, some have actually lost their homes. Many will suffer for a long time to come.
It is our job to focus on what we can all do to help.
Bluntly put, we can give money. Lots of it. The Labour Day weekend campaign of “loonie days” is laudable. No doubt it will raise several thousand dollars. But that’s a long way from the $5 million the flood the victims need.
Residents in McKellar (East End and Intercity) and Northwood have been disproportionally affected by this disaster. But disaster could strike any one of us. I am asking citizens in every part of Thunder Bay to dig deep. If you can afford a loonie, give a loonie. But if you can afford $100 dollars, give a hundred dollars. Or anything in between. If you can afford more, give more. Contact your friends, family and colleagues from across Canada and internationally and ask them for help. Think of it as an investment in our community. The need is great. Let’s all help our fellow citizens put their lives back together.
Cheques should be made out to: The Thunder Bay Disaster Relief Fund and sent to : Thunder Bay Disaster Relief Fund; Victoriaville Civic Centre Cashiers, 111 Syndicate Ave S., Thunder Bay, ON, P7C 5K4.
Donations can also be made in person at Thunder Bay 55 Plus Centre, The Canada Games Complex, The Volunteer Pool, The Churchill Pool, or through the United Way, The Canadian Red Cross, or the Salvation Army.
All of your donations will go to individuals whose homes and lives have been fundamentally changed by the events of May 28. I can promise you not one red cent will go to City Hall.
Current River Ward.