Brooke-Alvinston seeks provincial help to deal with storm damage

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Two large pines near the water tower on Lorne Street were snapped off in the July 20 storm.

The mayor of Brooke-Alvinston says his municipality needs help to deal with the damage from last week’s storm.

July 20, heavy thunderstorms moved through Lambton and researchers say a downburst with winds of up to 115 km hit Alvinston and surrounding area, bringing down countless trees which struck vehicles and homes. Neighbours worked together to clear the debris off the streets that day, however homeowners and the municipality have a lot of work yet to do to clean up the remains of the trees, fix roofs and homes and replace vehicles.

Mayor Dave Ferguson says no one has been able to say exactly how many trees have fallen. “Every time I go by, looking back here, (as some clean up occurs) now you can see better. There’s another tree tipped over and another tree sheared at the top, limbs are all gone. I don’t have a number but it’s not 20 or 30 it’s 50, 60, 70.”

July 21, Public works employees from St. Clair, Plympton-Wyoming and the County of Lambton were in Alvinston to help the municipality clean up after the July 21 storm.

Ferguson says the municipality’s public works employees have been working hard to clear the damage but it’s a big job.

“It’s the sheer volume of wood, sticks, trees, we do only have four people on the road crew, we’re doing all the work together. So then their other road work has been neglected.”

The mayor is also worried about the financial burden homeowners will bear. Many are still working to figure out how much work their homes may need.

Ferguson says a neighbour had a 8,000 pound tree fall on his bungalow. They’re still assessing the damage.

“You can see the trusses on the one end to a point. The end of the house is blown out a couple of inches. And then the kitchen downstairs there’s movement,” he says. “So, until they start taking off roofing, the sheathing, the siding to physically see or crawl up through the attic to physically see what he considers damaged.”

And he worries about those who have to pay for tree removal on their property.

“If you had a big tree in your backyard – and this is from a couple of years ago – and had to be removed carefully – didn’t damage the house, you’d be looking at $5,000 cost on doing that.

“Now I’ve got a big tree in your backyard; it’s tipped over partway, it has to come down. How do you get that big tree down that may not be (covered by) insurance because it hasn’t touched anything but it has to come down because it is safety issue.

“Now, if you’re a pensioner or somebody with a lower income and you get a five or $10,000 charge that’s going to be devastating to them when they realize it was gonna cost them,” says Ferguson.

The mayor has already spoken to Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MPP Monte McNaughton to see what help might be available from the province. Ferguson was also expecting to speak to the Minister of Municipal Affairs about his concerns and possible provincial solutions.