The cleanup may be over, but post-tornado recovery efforts will continue indefinitely at Uxbridge.
Mayor Dave Barton said immediate cleanup efforts focused on clearing brush and debris, and reopening roads and facilities are now complete, but the recovery is far from over.
“It will be a long way to go,” he said. “Most of the cleanup has been done, so now we’re making sure we’re ready for reconstruction, building permits and everything else. We want to make sure we’re as quick as possible so we don’t delay families waiting to rebuild. We don’t want anything municipal to delay the process.
He said the township is focused on streamlining processes for those affected, who include more than 40 families and several businesses.
Township facilities affected, including Uxbridge Arena and Uxbridge Historic Centre, have reopened, although there is still work to be done in both, and Barton expects station repairs York-Durham Heritage Railway to be completed this summer.
For others affected, the wait to return to homes and businesses will be significantly longer. Joanne Richter, co-owner of The Second Wedge Brewing Co., said they don’t expect to be back in the building before Christmas.
“It will be a long time before we can brew on our own property,” she explained, noting that most of the work depends on the arrival of new roof trusses, which currently have a wait of two to three. month.
“There’s a whole big chunk of work that will just be a waiting game,” she explained. “We know it’s unlikely we’ll be up and running before Christmas, probably after Christmas.”
In the meantime, Richter and co-owner Rob Garrard are focused on restocking their popular beers and maintaining their connection with customers. They temporarily went into production at another location and held several pop-up events, one at their current location on Father’s Day and another at Banjo Cider on Canada Day weekend. Richter said there will likely be more to come, and customers can still purchase their fan-favorite beers at several local restaurants and LCBO stores.
“The pop-ups will likely be on our main beer garden property, although we have a lot of work to do to make it usable,” Richter explained, noting that it needs tidying up and sprucing up after losing. many trees, and some still have to come down For safety.
“We would like to make the most of the summer and see our regular customers while maintaining this customer relationship which is really important to us.”
Richter said that as they moved on and adjusted to the disaster, the emotional toll also lightened.
“We’re in a better frame of mind now; we are still very busy figuring it all out, but we feel better now that there is a plan to build and get back up and running, even if it will take a long time,” she said. “It’s the amount of work ahead of us that’s quite daunting, but we’re holding our heads up high and looking forward to coming back in a very dynamic way.”
Although the company has not launched a GoFundMe or support campaign, Richter said she is grateful for all the support she has received so far and that buying gift cards would be a most appreciated means of supporting them throughout the reconstruction process.
For those looking to support the wider community, the Rotary Club of Uxbridge continues to raise donations for the Tornado Recovery Fund, which will help residents and businesses affected by the storm. For more information or to donate, visit www.uxbridgerotary.com.
The Province of Ontario has also approved disaster recovery assistance funding for uninsured or underinsured residents to help them get back on their feet. For more information, visit www.ontario.ca/disasterassistance.
Voluntary organisations, including North House and the Salvation Army, continue to work with displaced families to find new homes.
“Right now, we need places where people can live while they wait to get a roof fixed or their house rebuilt, whatever it is,” said Bev Northeast, president of the Uxbridge unit of the ‘Salvation Army. “Everyone has been through two years of stress with COVID, and now a tornado. Nobody needs to deal with that. This poses a whole new challenge for families, and we have to ask ourselves if we can move them to another community or can we bring them back here? Can we bring these families home?
Anyone with rental units available is encouraged to call Northeast for more information on how they can help families at 905-640-3966.
A state of emergency remains in place in Uxbridge, which Barton said councilors would consider lifting in the coming weeks as the recovery continues. He said the tornado’s impacts will be felt locally for a long time, but he’s proud of how the community responded.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our community and how we all came together,” he said, noting that residents came out immediately after the tornado to help work crews and neighbors alike. clear roads and remove fallen debris.
“That’s exactly who we are, and there are so many amazing stories of people helping each other. We’ve been hit hard but wow the recovery was quick and that’s thanks to everyone coming together to make this happen.
For more information on resources and recovery assistance, visit www.uxbridge.ca.
STORY BEHIND THE STORY: We spoke to officials and those affected by the recent tornado to learn about the status of recovery efforts and next steps as reconstruction begins.