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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

North Grenville: a refuge from the storm

Well that was quite a weekend. A tornado touched down in the Ottawa area Friday night and some people suffered a great deal of damage to their homes and property. Although we in North Grenville were virtually unharmed by the storm, we did notice a change in our little town. Saturday morning, thousands of our neighbours to the north woke up to realize their electricity had not come on over night. Worse than that, they were told that the power might be out for five days. The stores, restaurants and gas stations in the remaining powered areas of the city just couldn’t accommodate the customers, so residents of the blacked-out areas headed south, to Kemptville.
I was doing my regular Saturday grocery run when I noticed the lineup from the MacEwen gas station. It was spreading all the way back, out of the parking lot and down the road, into the roundabout. There were about fifty cars lined up when I drove by. At first I thought, Wow. The price of gas at 1.18 must be really good in Kemptville. Then I realized what was going on. Storm refugees.
There was an actual traffic jam in the Canadian Tire parking lot, and the grocery stores were experiencing the same influx of people who had come-from-away. I had a couple of my own storm refugees – my daughter and her fiancĂ© from Barrhaven, who needed to take a shower, get a good night’s sleep and use our Internet for the night before they hoped to return home.
As power lines were down on a section of Greenbank Road and traffic was nuts, it took our Barrhavenites almost two hours to get here. Once in town, they realized they were starving and pulled into Fat Les’ chip stand for a poutine. It turned out to be a wise decision, because nearly every other restaurant in town was full to the rafters with a line of hungry, rumpled and tired people waiting to be seated.
I didn’t hang around long enough to witness any grumpiness myself, but I hear that some people were less than patient when dealing with the traffic and congestion in the stores. I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that, like me, they did not immediately realize why they were forced to deal with a sudden influx of shoppers in our little community. For the most part, I think we can safely say, residents of North Grenville quickly realized that the newcomers to town were here because they were hungry and in need of supplies. They didn’t need anyone giving them a hard time. That’s not what my hometown is about.
Here is something I found on Facebook Sunday night that warms my heart. It was written by Kika Smith, who runs one of our local coffee shops. Located on the County Road 43 strip, Brewed Awakenings would have been directly in the line of fire for all of those disheveled visitors in desperate need of a good cup of java:
What a weekend! It has been an incredibly busy weekend with many new faces coming in from areas affected by the tornadoes. I want to take a minute to thank my phenomenal staff, who took it all in stride and continued to smile and put orders out quickly. One of my staff was headed to volleyball tryouts, which got cancelled, and when she saw how busy we were, she came in and worked for six hours. Not only that, but her dad came in and did dishes for us for hours, smiling and joking the whole time. Thank you Rachel, Rick and Debbie at Grahame's Bakery, who were ridiculously busy at their place but took a couple minutes to drop off some extra bread; not because we asked them to but because they knew that we would be as busy as they were and need the extra bread. Thank you to Paula who stopped in for a coffee and cleared tables while she waited. Thank you Cathy, who offered to run out and get us any groceries that we may need. Thank you Ghislaine, one of our regular customers who offered to do dishes when she saw our absolutely full restaurant; she decided to come back when it was less busy to get her espresso and then helped us clean up at the end of the day. Again, a huge shout out to my staff for being so amazing. And lastly, thank you to all our customers, new and regular alike, for their patience and humour. We live in an incredible community.
Indeed, we do.

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