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Smith's on Lasalle aiming to be back up and running in a few weeks

Strong community support in the wake of damaging storm
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It's been a rough 48 hours for Greg Smith, owner of Smith's market on Lasalle Boulevard, as his store caught the brunt of a violent storm on July 9.

Damaging winds ripped apart the roof of his store, power lines were knocked over into the parking lot, and there was even a report of a "flying boat" that unceremoniously docked in front of the store.

Smith was en route to North Bay when he got a phone call at around 6 p.m. Monday evening, informing him of the damage that the store had taken.

"There was an aluminum boat in the parking lot, no one knows how it got there and no one has claimed it, it's still there," said Smith. 

"One of my staff described it, that he had looked out the front window and there was a boat about 20 feet off the ground hovering in the air. He said it looked like something out of Harry Potter, it went one direction, stopped, went the other direction, stopped, then did a nosedive into the pavement."

Smith turned his car around and made his way back to Sudbury to see what damage had been done. He was greeted with a chaotic scene, while his staff and customers were still in the store due to the downed power lines in the parking lot.

"Police and Fire had the whole area cordoned off, four major hydro poles, two on the corner and two down Arthur Street were snapped, one was on fire," said Smith. 

"The firemen took me to the store down through the vacant lot next door, away from where the lines were down and into the store through the side door and we got the staff and customers out the same way."

Once the safety of the customers and staff was taken care of, Greg took stock of the damage that had been done to his store. 

Smith made his way up to the store's rooftop where he discovered that the air conditioning unit and condensers that run the refrigeration system had all been ripped from their bolts and were strewn haphazardly about the roof of the building.

"One was hanging off the back of the building just by the wires and tubes that it's piped in with, the other ones were all leaning up against the back of the building," said Smith.

"We're talking major, big units, so it looks like all of the infrastructure for our refrigeration units is totally destroyed and will all have to be put in new. It's going to be at least a couple of weeks until we're up and running again."

The store owner didn't sit on his hands and feel sorry for himself however, as he and his staff worked to save as much of their product as possible.

"We brought our refrigerator truck in and managed to get a good amount of our meats, and fresh bakery and produce down to the South End store immediately," said Smith. "As much as we could anyway, but it still looks like we're going to have a lot of waste. Anything we couldn't get out of there the first night or the next morning we're not going to take a chance with."

Smith has been taking an inventory of what the store was able to salvage, and the other two locations (South End - 2040 Algonquin Rd. and Valley East) have been offering sales in order to get as much of their products out as soon as possible in an effort to reduce waste.

"We're still open for business and we'll keep stocking those stores so we're just going to keep going until we can get Lasalle back up," said Smith, who thanked the community for their support in the wake of Monday's storm.

"Our customers have been fantastic, they're still supporting us, making the drive to the South End or the Valley, so we really appreciate that and we've had lots of positive support. You get something like this which is so devastating, but all the feedback and support we've had, it's really lightened the burden."



Matt Durnan

About the Author: Matt Durnan

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