I know, right? 18 months.
At first, I observed the anniversary of every single month as the days slowly went on. We marked 6 months in a big way in the media, and we marked the one year anniversary in a bigger way, on a national stage.
And then, to the relief of many, things quieted down.
There are people that are still in limbo. There are people that still aren't in the homes they were in
pre-tornado. And I'm not just referring to one family. I know of at least 3. In 2 of the cases their houses are being built right now. But they still aren't in. In the third case, their damaged home still stands, clearly visible from my bedroom window.
A year and a half later.
Tomorrow is exactly a year and a half since the Laberge family lost their loved one. An inquest was recently completed into his death, resulting in 14 recommendations. A popular one was the return of an "emergency siren" to Goderich, which would alert residents to take cover. Another recommendation was the improved forcasting and alerting the public of weather warnings by Environment Canada.
Yes, that would be great. Is it possible to better predict tornados? I don't know. I am not in the weather business. I like to think that Environment Canada did everything they could when they realized a tornado was imminent. But the reality is, there was very little time.
Very few people caught the tornado warning on the Weather Network. Is it Environment Canada's fault that very few people watch the Weather Network, especially on a Sunday afternoon in the summertime? Of course there is room for improvement, including the return of a townwide emergency siren - as long as something like a tornado's approach can be predicted in time and as long as it is used only when absolutely necessary - only when imminent danger is pretty much guaranteed. Obviously not every time a warning is issued.
Because the last thing we need here is to instill more fear into people.
I blog when I can. It makes me happy.
I go to bootcamp. It helps when I am stressed and makes me happy.
I have good friends. They make me happy.
I got a dog. She makes me happy.
Makenna swims. It makes her happy.
She also plays piano and reads, and writes, and pretends and dreams. It makes her happy.
She wrote her speech this year on our "Elf on the Shelf". She won first place at the local legion competition last weekend and advances to the next level, which takes place next weekend.
She is happy.
Jack goes to school every day. It makes him happy.
He reads. He is reading every word right now after I type it. That makes me happy.
He plays wii and runs and jumps and talks with his hands and laughs.
He exudes excitement and love and a zest for life.
He is happy.
What makes him happy?
The Fire Department.
He has been on the Fire Department for almost 7 years, a Captain for 2 1/2.
Yesterday, the 4 Goderich Fire Department Captains, along with the Chief, Deputy Chief and another firefighter who just retired after 30 years of service were recognized during the Goderich Town Council meeting with Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medals.
"The Canadian medal which is to 'honour significant contributions and achievements by Canadians,' is administered by the Chancellery of Honours at Rideau Hall and will be awarded to 60,000 citizens and permanent residents of Canada who made a significant contribution to their fellow countrymen or their community"
Goderich town councillor David Yates applied for and recieved these medals for the Fire Department, to recognize their commitment to this town in responding to the 2011 tornado. Its wonderful that these 7 men have been recognized. It was a very proud moment for each of them, and their families.
But something was missing. I wish there could have been a medal for each and every firefighter.
Because every single one of them busted their asses for this town.
Every single one of them left their families, left their jobs, went on little to no sleep for days and, quite literally, risked their lives. 3 of them did so despite severe or total losses to their homes.
Every single one of them was scared. None of them had ever seen anything like this before, and none of them were prepared for the media onslaught that came with it.
Every single one of those 20+ firefighters gave every single thing that had within themselves, and then some, to try to create a sense of order and peace in a town under tremendous stress.
And, lets not forget, they had help. So much help, from so many other fire departments in the area. Help that was crucial. Not just appreciated. Essential. Truly couldn't have done it without you help.
Truth be told, they requested ahead of time that when it came time to present these medals, that during the presentation speech the tornado specifically not be mentioned. And it wasn't. What was said was "they have helped lead this town through some of its worst crises..." or something like that. I can't remember exactly what was said.
7 Goderich firefighters, including my husband received and were awarded Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medals to acknowledge the way they responded and led their crews through the aftermath of the Goderich tornado. For putting thier lives, and their livlihoods on the line. One was also honoured for committing 30 years of his career to the Fire Department. But those 7 men will be the first to tell you that they are not the only ones that deserve them.
They are a part of a team. A family. 6 of them lead it and they are the ones held responsible if anything goes wrong, the ones who are legally responsible for all the rest of them, for making the decisions, for ensuring everyone is properly trained, for bringing everyone home safe, but all 20 + work together, capitalizing on eachother's different strengths to provide the best possible service when it matters most.
18 months ago the Town of Goderich and village of Benmiller experienced the worst crisis in their histories.
Yesterday seven of their firefighters were recognized for their leadership in facing that crisis.
And as a firefighter wife, THAT makes me happy.