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2012-05-29 at 16:36

Helping hand

By Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com
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Jessica Sharpe was horrified Monday morning when she did her paper route.

Neighbours everywhere were pumping water out of their basements and trying to save possessions after a major storm flooded the East End, causing the nearby Atlantic Avenue sewage treatment plant to malfunction.

People on her route invited Sharpe into their homes to see the damage.

“There were couches floating up the stairs. It was unimaginable. It was horrible,” Sharpe said from her McIntosh Street home Tuesday morning with her infant son Adam in her arms.

Untouched by the flood, Sharpe decided to open her home to the neighbourhood. Since then it has become a makeshift drop-in centre for the community.

Grills were fired up on her sidewalk, with the rest of the home was a flurry of volunteerism Tuesday as people were dropping of food, clothing, water and other donations for those put out by the flood.

It’s also being used as a place where people can get and give help, from information to volunteers willing to donate time or materials to get water and sewage out of nearby basements.

Sharpe said some of the things she’s seen are unimaginable. A widow on McPherson Street had sewage seeping into her floors and no one to help. Another neighbour with an infant had to get out of their home altogether.

“All they can smell is sewage,” she said starting to tear up. “A lot of people need shelter.”

She spent Tuesday morning knocking on doors and talking to neighbours, compiling a list of what they need most. Gas cards for pumps, clothing, water, food and even shelter are needed. Sharpe said she needed to do something for them.

“It’s the least I could do,” she said.

Sharpe is getting help to get people somewhere safe and gather donations through a Facebook group called Thunder Bay Flood Assistance.

Michelle Araya is one of those people. She, like the group’s more than 1,400 people wanted to help.

“We have so many people in Thunder Bay wanting to donate either their time or bring clothes or food,” Araya said at Sharpe’s home.

Araya doesn’t even live in the neighbourhood. She just wanted to do whatever she could.

“This is our community,” she said. “These are people right next door to us. These are people in our city that need help.”

Already places like The Westfort Prosvita, Tim Horton’s, The Power Centre and Future Shop have stopped by Sharpe’s home with donations. Barbara Nyman said the response has been amazing.

“You don’t usually see that anymore, people don’t help people but here all of us are helping each other,” Nyman said. “The people in our neighbourhood have been helping each other and that moral support really means a lot to all of us.”

Nyman was one of many McIntosh residents who woke up Monday morning to the sound of rushing water. Within 10 minutes, her basement had more than five feet of water. 

“It was pouring in. It was unreal,” she said.

While she lost countless pieces of furniture and priceless possessions that can never be replaced, Nyman said she was really only worried about her cat at the time.

“We could hear her but we couldn’t find her and she was floating around on some boxes when we finally got her,” she said.

There are a number of hoses out on the streets of the East End as people try to get rid of the water and sewage. But Nyman said she doesn’t want to pollute her neighbourhood.

“It’s sewage water. Why would you want to put it back out on the street? We have lots of kids around here. Kids don’t know. I don’t think it’s right to put it back on the street,” she said.

Nyman said she’s lucky to have eight brothers and sisters who have helped put her up in a hotel while she waits to get a company to come clean up her house. In the meantime, she’s one of countless people waiting for sewage services, insurance companies and other businesses to call her back.

Sharpe said that’s another one of the great needs in her community.

“They need insurance companies to call them back. That’s the biggest thing if they have insurance.”


 

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Comments

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wayne says:
AWESOME! People like this are true citizens of our community.
5/29/2012 5:58:55 PM
wayne says:
This is perhaps one of the most positive and shining examples of the good in local humanity I have read in a long time. While people criticize the City, sewage treatment plant, and the residents who were affected by this unprecedented and tragic event, I give thanks, admiration and praise to the unselfish, generous, caring and compassionate citizens of this fine city.

The Eastend was hit hardest. It will take weeks, maybe months for them to recover and move forward. One thing is for sure, the community of the Eastend is and will continue to be more united than ever. God bless.
5/29/2012 6:41:16 PM
AJ147 says:
Very well put Wayne. I couldn't agree more. I live in the East End & have for over 40 years & it's truly heart warming to see everyone actually care about everyone else. People that once were strangers are now friends trying to help each other out through this mess. Just take it day by day everyone, we will get through this.
5/29/2012 7:24:45 PM
Proud says:
It's been amazing to see the support. A couple with their son were out this morning handing out donuts and later water as well to residents that were outside.
5/29/2012 7:27:28 PM
rdoyle says:
If you read this site and before some Armchair Reporter/Cop/Politician/Engineer says anything negative. THANK YOU. You are what Thunder bay other places truly need. You are an amazing person. Once again THANK YOU so much.
5/29/2012 7:35:58 PM
Gord says:
This is my definition of a true leader in the community.
5/29/2012 9:09:34 PM
racine says:
This is what it’s about! Neighbours helping neighbours. It is amazing to see great effort and compassion of community members pulling together and helping one another. These days, most people don’t even know their neighbours name. Let’s not wait for another state of emergency to get to know them. Introduce yourself and say hello to your neighbours today!
5/29/2012 9:27:43 PM
CdnBudGuy says:
What is sad to see is that its only such a small group of people willing to help out. There is 100,000 people that live in this city and we only have 1400 willing to help out. Bet if this happened those people that arent helping at all they would be crying for help. WAKE UP THUNDER BAY!!! This effects all of us.
5/29/2012 9:29:53 PM
SG says:
Hey genius, that's just the number of people on the facebook group. Wake up CBG....

FYI the word should be 'affects' not 'effects'
5/30/2012 8:32:05 AM
gwilson010 says:
Hey CBG, just because we are not there helping "YOU" does not mean we are not helping. I know 6 family's that were hit hard between Northwood and the East-end. I'm sure I'm not the only one that is helping multiple families either. Just because we haven't clicked the "like" button on facebook doesn't mean we are not helping. The true heros here are the ones that help out while not trying to take any credit for what they did. That's my little rant.
5/30/2012 10:47:57 AM
MRS.J.SHARPE says:
I just want to THANK EVERYONE who came out to help! YOU The City of Thunder Bay made it possible for me to help! I could not have done this alone! So many people to thank here and I apologize for leaving anyone out; Facebook group called Thunder Bay Flood Assistance, Thank you for setting up this page! without you I would have had NO IDEA HOW TO HELP! Mayor Hobbs! Thank You for coming out to the East End and meeting with the people here and letting them know you care! It meant a lot to the residents I talked to this morning! Also THANK YOU for the PORT-a-Potties! Very Much Needed! To Shannon Hobbs for opening the "Command Centre" at St. Peter's Church, and for co-ordinating donations, sump pumps, getting the info out there and so much more! To EVERYONE WHO CAME TO MY HOUSE TO COOK AND MAKE SANDWICHES (Michelle, Kim Kaat, Kim Berly, omg my mind is blanking out on some of the other names I'm so sorry)... Thank You to everyone who brought donations! Bob Lem! You are AMAZING!
5/29/2012 9:37:59 PM
MRS.J.SHARPE says:
Bob Lem spent most of his day driving sump pumps where ever we told him! Thanks to the numerous people who donated their pumps or gas to run the pumps! We still need these, please keep them coming! Thank you to My neighbours on my block who came out and helped bbq and get people set up with food! Thank You to Adam for coming by with contractor info, I passed out those cards! Thank You to Friends who dropped in with food, water, clothing and hugs! I love you all! To the Following business' for food donations! Future Shop, Tim Horton's, Shoppers DrugMart and any that stopped by while I was out talking to neighbours! Again I apologize for forgetting your names! and lastly I Thank my family for putting up with my craziness and not only allowing me to do this but supporting me and coming out to help! THIS CITY IS AMAZING AND DEFINITELY HAS A GIANT HEART! THANK YOU! I will continue to walk the East End knocking on doors in the morning, if you need help, let me know!
5/29/2012 9:50:12 PM
passlake says:
Jessica Sharpe: Thunder Bay's 2012 Citizen of the Year.

"We've got a giant heart... oh Thunder Bay"
5/29/2012 10:21:59 PM
realist says:
Jess you are a inspiration to us all. I'll make sure and remind your husband just how lucky a man he is at work tomorrow.
5/29/2012 11:50:41 PM
bc09 says:
move over hobbs
5/30/2012 7:37:53 AM
Johnny says:
Jessica Sharpe for mayor, you already have done more than Hobbs ever will concerning this matter. This city definitely needs more people like you and less trash.. Good on you!!
5/30/2012 8:55:58 AM
thunderjorts says:
yes, clearly the mayor should be sitting on the street distributing burgers and not at city hall coordinating with all the cleanup crews, city planners and various technicians and insurance agencies and construction companies.

no, of course the elected administrator of the city shouldn't be doing any administration, he should be slinging burgers and bottled water in the east end

wake up
5/30/2012 9:27:32 AM
Hockeyskates says:
Shill Alert !
5/30/2012 11:54:32 AM
Johnny says:
Calm down toughguy ThunderJorts...don't you understand sarcasm?? wake up lil fella
5/30/2012 12:13:05 PM
TBDR says:
Apparently you missed the part where she thanked him for what he's done.
5/30/2012 4:39:14 PM
TbayMan says:
I'm so proud of our city... This is what I mean by people coming up huge for our community. This is the type of support that makes Thunder Bay the greatest city to live in. I know we have many issues with crime, but when push comes to shove we have to watch over each other... I would like to read more about what the City of Thunder Bay is doing to help out these families... Can some of the cost of these people be helped by our city/province/country? or is it because we live in Northwestern Ontario we get the shaft again?
5/30/2012 11:42:36 AM
TbayMan says:
Jessica Sharpe should receive a medal or a key to the city or whatever other award we have here in thunder bay... God Bless this lady, I hope that you have all the wonderful things life can bring, what you have done for support of your neighbors is just amazing... we should all be so lucky to have neighbors like her... If nobody else has said it, Thank You for representing Thunder Bay.
5/30/2012 11:46:22 AM
daryl060761 says:
Please everyone, join with 91-5 CKPR, Rock 94 and 103-5 The Thunder during the marathon 12-hour broadcasts from the Intercity Shopping Centre tomorrow (Thursday, May 31) and please donate money to help with the monumental cleanup and repairs required for, at last count, 1,000 homes. This will require more than "liking" something on Facebook, by way of support. I know Thunder Bay will come through with the donations required. Challenge your friends, family and coworkers to match your donations! Please be conservative in your water useage, and generous in your cash donations. :)
5/30/2012 1:28:14 PM
daryl060761 says:
And lets get pumps to the people that need them. Never mind the guy that wanted to charge his neighbour $ 1,500 to borrow his pump.
5/30/2012 1:43:03 PM
wayne says:
thanks for the information daryl!

It's amazing and inspirational to see the goodness and giving spirit that has multiplied as a result of this disaster.
5/30/2012 2:55:56 PM
sitwg98 says:
Let's nominate Jess for the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal or the Caring Canadian Award!
5/30/2012 3:19:28 PM
MRS.J.SHARPE says:
I just Need to say, I am NOT a Politician, nor do I pretend or claim to be! I voted for Mayor Hobbs and believe he is doing an AMAZING job! I am not doing this for fame, I'm doing it to help my neighbours. I started by walking the streets and asking people what help they need and then by telling people they could drop things off at my home until a better site could be found and that I would connect people who could help with people who needed help. From there it snowballed and now I am very Thankful for the St. Peter's Church Command Centre.These people have more experience at doing this kind of thing than I do and should be commended for their efforts as well. The Mayor HAS been down to the East End visiting, he has been working on getting the Sewage Plant working again. He got us port-a-potties! They may not be in the ideal location but they are here. Paul Pugh was here also, he took soup to a lady! My point is I did NOT do this alone, EVERYONE HELPED OUT, everyone gets credit
5/30/2012 10:49:54 PM
really?? says:
And lets get pumps to the people that need them. Never mind the guy that wanted to charge his neighbour $ 1,500 to borrow his pump.
Are you serious? He wanted to charge his neighbour $1500.00??? He should have paid him, and then ran the hose into his back yard !! Karma....
MRS. J. SHARPE -
I just Need to say, I am NOT a Politician, nor do I pretend or claim to be! I voted for Mayor Hobbs and believe he is doing an AMAZING job! I am not doing this for fame, I'm doing it to help my neighbours. - - - - This is why you are so amazing - I don't know you - but I wish I did - I don't live where you live but I have a few friends over there that are affected by the flood - they are lucky to have neighbours like yourself. I live in a North Ward subdivision - where everyone's so busy keeping up with the Jones' that they don't know their neighbours :( If something like this happened up here I am sure it would be every man for himself. You really deserve all of the praise that is given!
5/31/2012 10:50:05 AM
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