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Goderich picks up the pieces: One month later

Natalie Thomas, reporter
September 22, 2011 — It's been one month since a deadly F3 tornado left Goderich looking like a war zone. Residents continue to pick up the pieces.

Residents like Dawn Allen return to work
Residents like Dawn Allen return to work

One month after the tornado in Goderich and all of the trees and debris have been been cleaned up.

There are still however, many stories to tell.

Residents return to work

Dawn Allen lived in the apartment above the restaurant she worked at, but the tornado damaged the building so badly that she lost her home and her job.

“So it took me two and a half weeks to find a new job, but I think a lot of people are having a lot more trouble. You can always find a new apartment, you can always find a new job, but just to see how everything looks because this is our character, this is who we are.”

Workers at SIFTO, the town's largest employer, are also back on the job. Within three weeks of the tornado touching down, 400 of the 460 employees have returned to work. They feared it would take a lot longer than that.

Goderich T-Shirt Kids

One of the most inspiring stories has been the Goderich T-Shirt Kids. They've already sold more than 1,000 shirts to people from all over Canada and as far away as Sweden and Germany.

“We felt a little bit useless and we wanted to do something,” said Kate Sully with the Goderich T-Shirt Kids. “The goal is to donate $15,000 to the Goderich tornado relief fund, which is then matched 2-1 by the provincial government.”

Goderich thankful for support
Goderich thankful for support

Government assistance

“What happens with the provincial money, there was a commitment of five million dollars,” explains Goderich Mayor Deb Shewfelt. “Two and a half of that goes to fun public infrastructure and two and a half goes into the disaster relief fund.”

Officials say it's crucial to get the donations into the disaster relief fund to enable the two dollar match from the province.

The strength of social media

Francesca Dobbyn is the Executive Director for United Way of Bruce Grey and helps run the Goderich victims Facebook page, which acts as a central point for both victims and volunteers.

“Social media has really changed how we respond to crisis and disasters, but this to my knowledge is the first time on this kind of scale and it really proves the value of social media,” says Dobbyn.

The future

Mayor Shewfelt says the big challenge from this point forward is to restore the historic blocks.

“We all need to come together with a vision of Goderich that we had and maybe what we can improve in the future.”

There are still months of work ahead, but people say the acts of kindness and support from neighbours and volunteers are what's holding the community together.

With files from Andrea Stockton

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