London's dream team to bring relief to storm victims
By Sara Marett
Londonners stretched out a helping hand yesterday to those affected by the devastating ice storm that has mercilessly ravaged areas in eastern Canada.
Members of the community joined forces to form 'Team London,' with the hope of helping to restore power and supplies to areas in need.
Mayor Dianne Haskett applauded the efforts of the community to help others in a time of crisis. "It's a tremendous response, particularly considering how quickly everything is being organized. Within 24 hours we already have a team ready to work."
A community meeting with representatives from the City of London, the Salvation Army, London Hydro, the Red Cross, the London fire department, St. John's Ambulance and CIQM-FM 97.5 radio proved successful, as ideas were quickly pooled together to determine how London could help.
"The two things these people need are power and supplies," said Tom Cooke, general manager of 97.5 FM. "We have arranged buses and accommodation for electricians from London to go to Montreal and help restore hydro to the area."
Ed Jambot, senior manager of operations for London Hydro said their offices received numerous offers of assistance. "We've had 139 calls 55 of them volunteering experienced labour," he said. London Hydro will also send eight of their crews to Quebec today.
London's deputy fire chief Peter Harding said the area hardest hit is Montreal's South Shore, where the fire department has sent large tower units containing six generators each to restore power lines.
The team also proposed that London be twinned with one of the cities in crisis to better focus relief efforts. It may target a community in the South Shore area.
London organizations such as the Red Cross and the Salvation Army have already received hundreds of calls from people wanting to volunteer their services or donate money. Tim Manley, regional director for the Red Cross, said his organization is also helping those trying to locate a friend or family member in the areas hit by the storm.
Meanwhile, although power lines are constantly being restored to areas in Ottawa and Montreal, universities remain closed and hospitals continue to operate as emergency shelters.
At Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal, employees are preparing to accept extra patients, as smaller hospitals in the South Shore area may have to be evacuated.
Hydro-Quebec has restored a great deal of power to the Montreal core but continues to distribute it to surrounding areas. "This storm was like a giant ice monster who stepped on [hydro] towers and crushed them to the ground," said public affairs officer Richard Charland.
At Western, students are also doing what they can to help. The Progressive Conservative Association is collecting funds at their booth in the University Community Centre's atrium to send to the Ottawa Red Cross tomorrow.