When Bonnie Lapointe saw the damage caused by the severe windstorm that struck her southwestern Ontario property on Sept. 7, she cried.
“I had never seen anything like that,” she said of all the fallen trees that littered her small acreage near Kingsbridge along the shores of Lake Huron. “Some of those trees were over 200 years old.”
Lapointe and her husband Dan were at work when the storm—with winds up to 100 kilometres an hour—hit the area. Fortunately, their house was undamaged. But their yard was littered with tree limbs and branches.
For the couple, with no family in the area, it was overwhelming; they didn’t know where to start with the cleanup. Then they heard from Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS).
A few days after the storm, Lester Weber and Keith Snyder of the MDS Ontario unit went to the area to see if the organization could offer any help.
“We toured the area, seeing damage all along the way, but most of the cleanup was well underway,” he said.
But they found one house—the Lapointe’s—with lots of trees down and no cleanup being done.
“We stopped in, but found no one home,” he said. “The neighbours said they were at work. We left a card in the door, with a note saying call us if you need help.”
The two were only halfway home when Lapointe called.
“When I got home from work and found the card, I started crying again,” said Lapointe, who works at the Walmart in nearby Goderich. “And when I called Lester, I cried once more.”
The next day, eight volunteers from the Markham-Waterloo Mennonite Conference showed up to clear the fallen trees and remove the debris.
“There were lots of big trees, and tall trees with snags,” said Weber. “We rented a lift to safely remove them.”
For Lapointe, it was an incredible experience.
“I couldn’t believe it,” she said, noting that she had never heard of MDS before. “By the end of the day, they had removed almost all the trees. It was a big job.”
Today the couple feels more settled, although they still are saddened by the loss of so many trees.
“I don’t like looking out my kitchen window anymore,” Lapointe said of the emptiness she sees with so many trees gone.
One of the first things she looked for after the storm was a family of doves that nests beside the house. “I thought for sure they were killed or left because of the storm,” she said. “I was heartbroken, so afraid they’d be gone.”
But the babies and parents, which have nested there for years, were still there.
For Lapointe, it was a sign of hope from God that, if the doves made it, she and her husband would make it, too.
“When I see the doves, it reminds me why I believe in God,” she said, adding that when she thinks of the help from MDS, “that’s a sign of hope from God, too.”
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