The city is furthering its recovery efforts after this week’s flood.
Officials now estimate nearly 700 homes were flooded but say the number is likely much higher than that. The Thunder Bay Construction Association has 20 of its 214 business members on board to start professionally cleaning uninsured homes that were flooded at no cost. There are already 84 homeowners who have asked for the service.
“It’s quite a logistic task to get these people out there,” construction association head Harold Lindstrom said.
Thunder Bay Fire and Rescue will also help with the cleanup along with a Mennonite disaster team from Manitoba.
“What we’re trying to encourage is for people not to cleanup themselves and that’s why we want to employ as many qualified people to go in and clean it up,” city manager Tim Commisso said.
The Red Cross and Salvation Army are increasing their efforts as well. More than 50 Red Cross volunteers from the city and province have been going door-to-door to assess people’s needs. Nearly all of the 100 homes still without power or gas have been visited and the Red Cross will now start handing out clean up and comfort kits to people.
“Our role right now is to ensure that we can help them get the specific aid they need in regards to cleaning up and offering those services to the most vulnerable,” spokesman David St. Georges said.
The Red Cross has set up an information centre at St. Peter’s Church. Around 40 people have registered at the agency’s shelter at Neebing Arena with more expected.
The Salvation Army has been travelling nearly 100 kilometres of roads with its mobile feeding trucks, handing out more than 460 meals Thursday alone.
“This is very much a disaster situation and it’s not decreasing in fact it is increasing,” acting mayor Coun. Rebecca Johnson said. “This is affecting the whole community. This is not in one area.”
Johnson stressed the need for people to use the city’s centralized relief operations rather than trying to get or give help on their own. Some initiative, although made with good intentions, have actually cost the city time because it’s had to inspect some operations that weren’t going through the central service.
“It’s taking our time and we can use that time in better ways,” she said.
As for the Atlantic Avenue treatment plant, the main pumping station is now dry enough that motors have been removed in order to dry them out and start servicing them. While more relief has been seen in the city sewers, it’s still not enough to remove the water conservation request.
That will have to wait until the pumping station is back to capacity, which is still unknown. Also unknown still is where the breach at the station is. The city thinks it might be somewhere in an older part of the plant.
“We’re getting closer. We know that the breach is not in the end of the plant we’re currently working on,” city infrastructure manager Darrell Matson said.
Public meetings will be held Saturday at 2p.m. at the Slovak Legion and 4 p.m. at the Moose Hall.