The sky is bigger in the Montrose-Grandview neighbourhood of New Sudbury.
Where once stately trees towered over the houses, there is now mostly blue sky. Many of those old trees were broken or uprooted in the powerful thunderstorm that tore through the area on July 9. Many others had to be removed in the clean-up efforts that followed.
Those clean-up efforts continue. Fences remain broken; huge piles of brush line the curbs. Many homes and businesses still need repairs.
We’re used to seeing ourselves as the masters of our world, so it’s frightening when Mother Nature reminds us how much sway she holds over us. That a relatively brief gust of wind — albeit a gust blowing at least 100 km/h — could wreak so much havoc is shocking.
Damage estimates haven’t been tallied yet (that will take another few weeks, we’re told), but we can expect that number to be fairly high.
Thankfully, no one seems to have suffered any major injuries. That in itself is gratifying, and also surprising, given the size of some of the debris that was tossed through the air by storm and the size of some of the trees and limbs that were brought down.
It could have been so much worse.
Of course, for those of our fellow Sudburians who had their homes and properties savaged by the storm “it could have been so much worse” probably seems like little consolation. I understand that.
The clean-up itself has brought up a few questions and we at Sudbury.com are working to get you answers. Questions like: If a tree on my property fell on a phone line that’s not on my property, is it my responsibility to remove the tree? Is it the phone company’s, which owns the line? Is it the city’s, since the land is public? Or, if my undamaged fence had to be removed so hydro crews could repair a line, whose job is it to fix the fence?
I have to say I am impressed with the response from emergency responders, hydro crews, city staff and the public. City crews and Greater Sudbury Utilities crews (as well as the public utilities from North Bay, Sault Ste. Marie and Huntsville who sent workers to help) have logged countless hours in the clean-up and power restoration efforts.
Before the rain stopped falling, officials were out on the streets assessing damage, rolling up their sleeves and getting to work. Some of that work continues.
When word of the amount of damage the neighbourhood had suffered began to leak out, Sudburians do what Sudburians have always done when faced with disaster: We pulled together and pitched in.
From across the Nickel City on social media, Sudburians offered their sympathies, but more than that, they offered their chainsaws, their pickup trucks, their strong backs and their sweat.
Neighbours, their own homes and properties damaged, helped neighbours. Strangers helped strangers. It was, and is, an amazing display of community-mindedness and community strength.
And while we all would prefer the storm hadn’t happened, what followed in the aftermath is a reminder and a lesson about what “community” really is, and what it means to be a good neighbour.
You never cease to be impressive, Greater Sudbury.
Mark Gentili is the editor of Sudbury.com and Northern Life.