Thursday, May 31, 2012

Coroners Inquest Expands

Ontario's Chief Coroner is ordering a joint inquest into the deaths of seven First Nations young people in Thunder Bay.  All seven died after leaving their home communities to come to the city to go to high school.  The deaths happened between 2000 and 2011.   The inquest jury could be able to make recommendations aimed at preventing anymore deaths in a similar way.  No date has been set for the inquest. 

Gravelle Says Wheels In Motion For Disaster Relief

Michael Gravelle is applauding the city for requesting disaster relief from the provincial government. The Thunder Bay MPP says it means his government can now start the process of getting the city some financial relief in the wake of this week's massive storm. Gravelle can't say how long the process will take.

Progress Made But Still A Way To Go

As the state of emergency continues in the city due to this week's flooding crisis, there is some progress to report.  City official Darrell Matson says that while they still haven't been able to examine the crippled sewage treatment plant the pressure on it is easing somewhat because the water levels in city sewers are starting to decrease.  Meantime, the city is still asking you to conserve water the best you can.

Second Truck Helps Salvation Army Efforts

The Salvation Army remains on the job in flood affected areas of the city.   Manager Merv Halvorsen says the organization is increasing the frequency that a mobile food van will be making stops to feed the hungry now that a second truck has arrived from Winnipeg. 

City Contractors Asked To Reach Out

As the city flood crisis continues more and more organizations are stepping up to help and this time it's the Thunder Bay Construction Association.   President Harold Lindstrom says  he's asking some of his members to volunteer to help clean up homes which have been hit with flooding, two have already done so.

Spofford Street Home O.K.

The City's Building Inspectors say a Spofford Street home is not in danger of collapsing.  Chief Building Inspector Desmond Stolz says the homeowners felt the home might collapse due to the recent flooding.   Stolz says they haven't been run off their feed and there have been no other home inspections.

Mauro Tours Flood Zone

Thunder Bay - Atikokan MPP Bill Mauro is now back in the city and is touring the flood ravaged areas of the City and other municipalities today. Mauro says the city declaring itself as a disaster area is the appropriate step in trying to access funds from the Disaster Relief Assistance Program. Mauro says municipalities within his riding have been successful in applying for provincial money in the past when facing a similar situation.

Pugh Talks McKellar Ward

The McKellar Ward is the hardest hit by the city's flooding.  Residents in the East End and Intercity areas are reporting massive amounts of water in their basements.  McKellar Ward Councillor Paul Pugh says he's spent a number of hours surveying the damage and is trying to relay information to flood victims about where they can turn to for help.

LU Closes Fieldhouse

Lakehead University has closed the C.J. Sanders Fieldhouse because of some water damage. Spokesperson Hugh Briggs says the decision coincides with what the city is doing with some of their facilities. Briggs also says they've had to close another one of their buildings on Balmoral for the same reason.

Live Coverage Of City's Emergency News Conference

Live video from your iPhone using Ustream

Border Cats Lose Opener

The Thunder Bay Border Cats got off on the wrong foot last night, losing on the road in their Northwoods league opener 12-3 to the Alexandria Beetles. The Cats are still missing at least 12 players from their roster, 10 of which are still involved with N.C.A.A. playoffs. Their home opener at Subway field is on June 4th.

No Buses Running In Conmee Township

School Buses in Conmee Township will not be running today or tomorrow. All schools are open for the Lakehead Public, Lakehead Catholic and C.S.D.C. Aurores Boreales boards. Delays are however expected for students coming in from rural areas.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Council Votes For Disaster Relief

The city is one step closer to getting some financial help from the provincial government. City Council has voted to ask the province to declare Thunder Bay a disaster area as the result of this week's devastating rain storm. It's so we are able to apply for funding under the province's Disaster Relief Assistance Program. City Manager Tim Commisso is also going to see what kind of funding would be available from Ottawa. Some new information which came from Wednesday's special council meeting included a revelation from Councillor Ken Boshcoff that insurance experts have told him there could be 3 to 5 thousand claims filed and that total damage could be between 30 to 50 million dollars.

Flood Warning Update

The Lakehead Region Conservation Authority is continuing the flood warning for Thunder Bay, Oliver Paipoonge, and Conmee Township due to high water levels on the Kam River.  All waterways with the exception of the Kam are continuing to decline.  The Neebing River water level has dropped 3 metres since cresting Monday night.  The Neebing-McIntyre Floodway is expected to stop diverting flow overnight. 

Con College Home To Safety Training

A provincial safety association is setting up a training facility in Confederation College's Dorion Building.  Spokesperson Al Beattie says opening up a Northern office made sense since most of their courses were originally only available in Southern Ontario.  Courses will include working at great heights, working with high voltage electricity and transporting dangerous goods. 

Salvation Army Red Cross Team Up

The Salvation Army and the Canadian Red Cross are joining forces to launch a national appeal for funds for flood victims. Salvation Army Major Merv Halvorsen says they're on the street helping people get access to food. To donate to the Thunder Bay Flood Fund call 1-800-725-2769.

East End Church Serves As Help Centre

Neighbours are pulling together in the East End in the wake of the devastating flooding that has hit most of their homes. A centre has been set up at St. Peter's Church so affected residents can pick up free clothing, food and water if they need it. It's been run by group of people who are headed by Shannon Hobbs and a lot of people and organizations are providing the goods.  Hobbs says she is overwhelmed by the generosity.

East Enders Still Pumping Out Flooded Basements

Residents of the East End continue to pump water from their flooded basements for the third day. The breakdown at the nearby sewage plant is causing lots of heartaches for many like Maria Bell on McPherson Street. She says she was hoping someone from the city could come by to have a look but to find out how they're doing, but that hasn't happened. Bell says she had up to four feet of water in her basement and lost a lot of personal items

No Limit On Garbage During Flood

During this state of emergency the city is removing the bag limit for garbage collection. It means until further notice, you can put out as much garbage as you need to for your weekly pick up. Along with that the city is offering a special collection service for large items by calling 625-2195

Pumping Continues At Treatment Plant

The City is busy pumping out water and debris from the crippled Atlantic Avenue Water Treatment Plant.  General Manager Darryl Matson hopes crews will be able to inspect the plant tomorrow.
The city is still asking you to avoid flushing water down the drains.

East End Residents Unite

Acts of kindness continue in the city's East End. Resident, Jessica Sharp was the first to open her home to neighbours in need. Since Monday, the "Safe Place To Go" has been moved to St. Peter's Church. Sharp says people in the East End, whose basements have flooded, are still in need of number of important items. Sharp also says, in addition to sump pumps, people are in need of gas as well in order to run them.

Hyer On CP Rail Back To Work

Back-to-work legislation to end a week-long strike by C-P Rail workers is now headed to the Conservative-dominated Senate for royal assent.  Thunder Bay MP Bruce Hyer says the Federal Government is setting a precedent.  Hyer says the Labour Minister is meddling and shouldn't force CP Rail employees back to work.

Conmee Buses Affected Wednesday

There will be no school bus transportation this morning in Conmee Township. The Lakehead Public School Board is also saying that Kakabeka Falls and Crestview schools will re-open today. For the Thunder Bay Catholic and C.S.D.C. Aurores Boreales, all schools are open today but they are saying to expect some bus delays for those coming in from rural areas.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Hyer Talks To Toews About Flood

Thunder Bay MP Bruce Hyer just wrapped up a chat with Public Safety Minister Vic Toews.  Hyer says the Federal Government has money set aside for flood assistance but it will only flow if matching Provincial funds are available.  Hyer adds Thunder Bay's Military Reservists can also be deployed to help flood victims but only if the Provincial Government requests it.

Province Take Active Role In Relief

The provincial government is taking an active role in helping communities hit by this week's flooding. Natural Resources Minister Michael Gravelle says a variety of ministries are helping out all the affected areas to make sure they can recover from the storm. Meantime, Gravelle suggests there could be hope for victims of basement flooding in Thunder Bay, but the city will have to act. He says the province's Disaster Relief Program is where they can apply for assistance. Gravelle says the city has to make the request, which they haven't done yet.

Stats Can Release Age Info

Thunder Bay's population is dominated by Seniors.  That's the latest findings in the 2011 census from Statistics Canada.  Spokesperson Vince Dale says we have a higher population of seniors than the National average.  Senior citizens now represent 17.2 per cent of the population of Thunder Bay.

City Talks Flood Insurance

Hundreds of people have flooded basements in the City.  City Spokesperson Darryl Matson says people who are worried about their insurance claims can contact the City's Sewer and Water Department or their Insurance provider.  Meanwhile, Matson says they don't know if the City's insurance will cover the cost of the destruction at the water treatment plant.

Charities Fill A Need

Two local charity groups are working to help the people affected by basement flooding, especially in the East End.   The Red Cross volunteers are working to redirect some affected people to proper housing, while the Salvation Army is operating services for lunch and dinner with its mobile van.

Flood Warning Remains

There's no change to the region's flood warning from the Lakehead Region Conservation Authority. Chair Bill Bartley says while the water levels are starting to go down we are not out of the woods yet.
Bartley says the amount of water that has gone through the Neebing-McIntyre Floodway has been the most since it was opened.

Horwath Offers Help

The Province's NDP leader says she is ready to help the city in any way she can. Andrea Horwath says she made the offer to Mayor Hobbs when she called him by phone this morning. She said that if Hobbs ever found the provincial response to our emergency wasn't to his liking she could assist. Horwath says she has been keeping an eye on the flood problems here.

Baggage Building Set To Open June 15th

The owners of the Painted Turtle Art Shop will run the new Baggage Building Arts Centre at Prince Arthur's Landing starting June 15th.  Lorraine Cull and Angela Jensen will provide interim programming this summer. The City entered into an agreement with the two women recently.

Conmee Remains On Alert

Conmee Township remains in a State of Emergency due to this week's flooding.  Reeve Kevin Holland says Highway 11-17 remains closed between Highway 590 and Highway 102.  All roads within the community are now open to local traffic only with the exception of portions of Mokomin Road East and Hume Road.

CEDC Welcomes Communitech CEO

The Community Economy Development Commission is learning about what Thunder Bay can do to improve its economy.  The CEDC brought in the President of Waterloo based company Communitech to speak about the similarities between the two communities.  Iain Klugman told the CEDC they need to grow Thunder Bay's medical research economy.

Mayor Visits East End

The State of Emergency continues in Thunder Bay as city officials struggle to go get control of the situation at the crippled sewage treatment plant on Atlantic Avenue. They say until the flooding at the plant is settled they're asking residents to continue conserving water. The city says they've recieved up to 500 calls about flood complaints, many of which are flooded basements. Mayor Keith Hobbs says he's been to the most affected area with flooding and that is the east end and is impressed with the way the people are pitching in.

Lee Stuesser Is Law School Dean

Rod Hanley and Lee Stuesser
Lee Stuesser is Lakehead University's new Law School Dean.  Canadian born Stuesser has been busy working at Australia's Bond University as a Professor.  Stuesser says they'll be hiring a librarian and teaching staff in the near future.  The school is set to open in September of 2013.

Conservation Authority Update At 10 A.M.

The Lakehead Region Conservation Authority continues its flood warning for the entire Lakehead region. This includes the City of Thunder Bay, the municipalities of Neebing, Oliver-Paipoonge, Shuniah and the townships of O'Connor, Conmee, Gillies and Dorion. The Neebing-McIntyre floodway is diverting significant water flow and will do so for several days. The L.R.C.A. will update their flood warning at 10:00 a.m. this morning.

Salvation Army Set To Help Out Flood Victims

The Salvation army is helping out with those who have been forced from their homes due to flooding. The local Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services team is prepared for food and hydration for up to 200 to be served at the evacuation centre in the Neebing Arena for those displaced by the emergency. Divisional Director, Perron Goodyear says “The Salvation Army is committed to assisting in any way they can during these very difficult days.”

Dog Lake Down To Dam Is Dangerous

Stay away from water on the Kaministiquia River between Dog Lake and Kakabeka Falls. That's the message coming from the Ministry of Natural Resources, the Ontario Provincial Police and Ontario Power Generation. The Ministry of Natural Resources and O.P.G. continue to monitor the high water levels currently existing on the Kaministiquia Watershed. Officials say there is a potential for flooding of the Silver Falls Road and areas along the Kaministiquia River between Dog Lake and Kakabeka Falls.

School Closures And Bus Updates

Due to road conditions please be advised of the following cancellations and or school closures. Kakabeka Falls and Crestview. Busing is also cancelled for all Lakehead secondary students from these areas. All other Lakehead Public schools are open today.

The Thunder Bay Catholic and C.S.D.C. Des Aurora Borealis are reporting route closures. Busing has been cancelled for: Conmee Township and the Municipality of Oliver-Paipoonge North of Highway 11-17. All of the Thunder Bay Catholic and C.S.D.C. Des Aurora Borealis schools are open today.

Edward St. Bridge Closed

City Police and the Thunder Bay Fire Department have closed the bridge that crosses the Neebing River at Edward St. Motorists will not be able to cross this morning and will be detoured accordingly.

Overnight Flood Updates

As part of the ongoing response to the City flood emergency, the City of Thunder Bay closed the Edward Street Bridge over the Neebing River shortly after 10 p.m. Monday as a precaution due to the high water level. The bridge will be evaluated  during the day on Tuesday to reassess the situation

As the East End was particularly hard hit by flooding, City crews were installing portable toilets by 12:30 am Tuesday.

The short-term reception centre is in place at the Neebing Arena. By end of day on Monday, two persons attended the centre to ask for information and no persons made use of the available transportation from the staging area at the Slovak Legion, 801 Atlantic Avenue. The reception centre will remain available, if required, and residents are encouraged to call 211 for more information.

The following facilities were closed as of 5 pm Monday: the Canada Games Complex, Churchill and Volunteer Pools, the 55 Plus Centre and the West Thunder Community Centre.

The City has implemented a contingency strategy which includes an assessment at the Secondary Sewage Treatment Plant. The City is unable to confirm timelines for completion of the assessment and remedial action.

The City was also dealing with the following road closures:
· North 25th Side Rd. from Arthur Street to the north end
· Mission Marsh Rd.
· Kline Rd. extension (also known as Little Kline Rd.), to the end
· Highway 130 from Oliver Rd. to Pole Line Rd.
· Oliver Rd. from Mapleward Rd. to Townline Rd.

Residents and businesses are asked to follow the following recommendations:
· Check on friends and relatives who may need assistance and particularly seniors and persons with disabilities to make sure they are in good health.
· Minimize the amount of water that is flushed or released down the drain until further notice. City tap water is safe to drink [However, the Thunder Bay District Health Unit recommends
those on private well water should bring the well water to a rolling boil for one minute before consumption].
· Exercise caution when travelling in the area of waterways.
· Stay out of the basement if it is flooded, especially if water has risen as high as electrical outlets and advise Thunder Bay Hydro at 343-1111.
· Do not consume food that is wet due to flooding and follow the Thunder Bay District Health Unit’s recommendations for food safety during a power outage. Visit

Important contact numbers:
· Thunder Bay Hydro – 343-1111 or after hours 343-1002 – for electrical problems or concerns
· Infrastructure & Operations – 625-2195 – to report flooding or for questions or concerns about City roads and other City infrastructure
· Ministry of Transportation – 511 – for information about provincially-owned highways
· 211 for general information and details on reception centre
· 911 should only be called if there is an emergency

Monday, May 28, 2012

Help Is On The Way

The City is bringing in outside resources to help clean up the flooded Atlantic Avenue Water Treatment Plant. 9 pumps are coming in from Toronto, Sudbury and Winnipeg today and are being placed in the sewer system and at the plant. General Manager Darrell Matson says they won't know what caused the plant to flood until it's cleaned up. Meanwhile, the City is setting up a reception centre at the Neebing Arena for those people whose homes are flooded. Some homes with water in the basement are having their Natural Gas and Electricity shut off as a safety precaution. The Centre will provide a place for those people to sleep until it's safe to return to their homes. Meanwhile, the City has closed the Canada Games Complex, Churchill and Volunteer Pools, the 55 Plus Centre and the West Thunder Recreation Centre.

State of Emergency Update

Water Levels Continue Rising

The Lakehead Region Conservation Authority says many area waterways continue to rise especially in the city and in Oliver Paipoonge .  The Neebing River is rising at a rate of 15 centimetres and hour.  Corbett Creek is also rising considerably.   More rain is expected overnight.   15 millimetres is possible.  

OPP Cruiser Hits Crevasse

OPP say the driver of this cruiser is not seriously injured.  He was driving the vehicle along Oliver Road near Boutler Road when the incident occurred

Health Unit Tells Well Users To Boil

The Health Unit is recommending well users boil their water.  If your home or business is affected by the flooding and high water levels you need to bring well water to a rolling boil for a full minute before using.  The Health Unit is also telling people to be careful and throw out food that was not kept cold or frozen during this morning's power outage.

MTO Updates Road Closures

There are several roads closed in the Thunder Bay area today.  The Ministry of Transportation says full or partial washouts are being reported on Highway 11/17 near Hume Road, west of Vibert Road, east of Twin City Crossroad, and the Harbour Expressway Intersection near Highway 11/17 and Highway 61.  It could be several days before a section of Highway 11/17 East is open.  The section that is giving the Ministry of Transportation trouble is west of Vibert Road where water is rushing over the roadway at the SuperCor culvert.
For east/west traffic, Highway 102 is operating normally at this point.  Other road closures include: Portage Creek Road at the first bridge,  Laukaa Lane at Auto Road, and Silver Springs Road.  Arthur Street to Twin City Cross Roads is closed due to extensive damage to the roadway.  Thunder Bay Police are telling motorists and anyone who is travelling west out of the City they will have to take Highway 102 to Dawson Road as an alternative route.

Conmee Township Boil Water Advisory

A State of Emergency is in effect for Conmee Township. Mayor Kevin Holland says they're taking a wait and see approach. Holland is asking people within the township to stay home. The Mayor is also asking residents to boil their water since pollutants may have seeped into area wells.  Meanwhile, Oliver-Paipoonge has also declared a state of emergency.

O.P.G. Says Kam Dam Is Stable

Ontario Power Generation is reporting the Kam River Dam is in stable condition despite the recent heavy rainfall. Spokesperson Ted Gruetzner says they'll be managing water flows but not fully opening the dam. Gruetzner says if any more rain comes down they may have to re-evaluate the situation.

Thunder Bay Under State Of Emergency

The City of Thunder Bay is under state of emergency. City Spokesperson Darryl Matson says the Atlantic Avenue Water Sewage Treatment Plant is flooded. Workers are trying to pump out the water, just to try and get a look at the damage and assess the situation from there. All city residents are not to use any extra water. That means: flushing toilets, washing clothes, running baths, taking showers. Those activities would put extra and undue pressure on the city's water system.

City-Wide Flooding

There has been extensive flooding in the South Ward, this includes Northwood, the Intercity Area, parts of Westfort and James St. City Police are saying numerous basements in the Northwood Area have water in them, Northwood Mall is flooded with inches of water in the stores. The railway underpass on South James St is closed due to flooding. Most ditches in the Intercity area are overflowing and covering parts of the roads. There are numerous vehicles have stalled out on the roadways. Residents of Thunder Bay are urged to use caution.

School Closures Announced For Monday

The Lakehead Public School Board are announcing school closures this morning. Crestview, McKenzie, Five Mile, Gorham & Ware, Valley Central, Kakabeka Falls, Whitefish Valley and Thunder Bay Christian schools Are all closed. Norwesterview school will remain open but with no school bus transportation.

Hydro Reporting No Major Power Outages

Thunder Bay Hydro is reporting no major power outages at this time. Power was knocked out thanks to an overnight thunder storm which socked itself in over night. Power was out briefly at 12:45 a.m. in areas such as County Park, Castlegreen and the Dawson Road Area.