Our Toronto Island neighbours have been battling severe flooding since mid-May. But a Toronto future weather projections report says that rainfall will get much heavier, especially in June and July. West Bend resident Jim Baxter understands the risk. Extreme rain in July 2013 was flooding basements and causing power outages. An experienced contractor, Jim had brought a sump pump to his work site but he needed a generator. He knew the city was in trouble when he got to Home Depot and saw the lineup.
Jim drove to Rona where they were locking the doors because they’d lost power. He talked himself in, grabbed a generator, and headed for the checkout. But he didn’t have cash. Finally a sympathetic manager put his job on the line, took a paper imprint of Jim’s credit card, and let him through. It was an emergency, and the planning that might have prepared everyone for it had never taken place.
Jim’s next concern was the well being of two of his neighbours. Over the years he’s helped his elderly neighbour with the maintenance that makes it possible for her to stay in her home, and does the same for a single mom raising kids on her own. They help him out too. That’s what neighbours do.
Rain is just one hazard that’s worth preparing for. Extreme heatwaves are a serious risk to public health and we’re going to see more of those. How many more folk are in need of neighbourly care? Jim’s going to find out. An active member of the West Bend Community Association, Jim cares deeply about his neighbourhood’s resiliency.
Supported by Toronto’s Office of Emergency Management, Jim is talking to his neighbours about emergency preparedness and helping out their vulnerable neighbours. If you live in West Bend you’ll be meeting Jim soon. Say hello!