Residents turn to emergency shelters
Holmedale resident Chris Chambers takes advantage of the services of Woodman Park Community Centre, which was turned into a shelter during a state of emergency declared Wednesday by the City of Brantford to cope with Grand River flooding. (Michael-Allan Marion/The Expositor)
Woodman Park Community Centre on Grey Street was a busy place Wednesday, offering shelter to residents ordered out of their homes as result of the Grand River flood threat.
City employees from different departments poured into the centre to help residents from Holmedale, West Brant and Eagle Place. Assumption College School gymnasium on Shellard Lane also served as a shelter.
"We're setting up right now with all these people and supplies coming in," Eric Burke said at the Woodman centre. "We're just waiting for the Red Cross to come in to do registrations."
Burke is usually a manager at the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre, but at 5 a.m. he got a call directing him to Woodman. Other parks and recreation staff were sent to Woodman after the department's headquarters on Sherwood Drive was ordered closed.
"This is a first for me and for this evacuation plan to be activated," said Burke. "We just want to make sure everybody is OK."
Chris Chambers, who lives on McKenzie Avenue in Holmedale, made the trip to Woodman.
"We were told we were being evacuated just as I was leaving to go work so I came here right away," she said.
She said her husband, Brian, and daughter, Nicole, decided to go to breakfast first. Her son, Brandon, drove to work.
"We'll have to wait and see when we can get back in at home," Chambers said.
"When I was sitting (in traffic) on the Lorne Bridge I saw the ice was high up at the pedestrian bridge. That was pretty scary to see it was that high."
Over the next hour, a succession of city transit buses drove to the centre to drop off residents. City police officers helped residents into the building.
Robin Kuchma, executive director of the Brant County SPCA, was at Woodman to help pet owners with their animals.
She lauded an "effective" partnership with the city to receive pets at Woodman and Assumption and shuttle them to the Brantford Municipal Airport, where they would be cared for until the emergency is over.
She called the situation "organized chaos" but the staff were coping well.
"Both places are not really set up to take pets but this is where we could take them in and move them to the airport," she said.
"There was also a hiccup that this is also the day the shelter was evacuated. We have staff there handling the phones. It's been busy and the phones are ringing of the hooks, but we're managing."
Also, with many streets closed, it's been difficult picking up pets at Woodman and Assumption and taking them to the airport, Kuchma said.
"It's been taking us longer than we hoped, but we're managing."
She noted that Jared Houliston from Ontario Wildlife used his workers and vehicles to help transport pets.
And she thanked Mike and Melanie Mears, owners of West Brant Window World, and the Ontario SPCA for supplying vehicles, and many volunteers.
"We could not do this without their help," she said.
Brantford Expositor 2018 ©