Commemorating Woodman: Efforts of first responders, residents recognized
LONDON, ONT. -- A special event commemorating the one-year anniversary of the explosion on Woodman Avenue was held Friday morning to recognize the efforts of all who responded to the devastating blast.
First responders, city staff and neighbours were all recognized for their efforts, not only on the night of Aug. 19, 2019, but in the days, weeks and months that followed.
David O'Brien, coordinator of Emergency Management for the City of London shared the words of an investigator for the Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office in the days following the explosion.
"He turned to the group and he said, 'I gotta tell you guys, it does not get any better than this. What you did here was truly miraculous.’"
Many admit there are still steps to be taken to repair the damage done, there was celebration for a community that came together to help each other.
Sarah Merrit, Old East Village Community Association president, said the work of emergency responders really hit home for her that day.
"When you hear the sirens screaming down the road, be it the ambulance, be it the police, be it the fire department, you know, you think something bad is happening somewhere and you offer a wee prayer and you hope that everybody is OK. But when it actually happens in your own neighbourhood it really brings to the fore what it is that you people do on a daily basis to keep us all safe."
Councillor Jesse Helmer, who represents Ward 4 (which includes Woodman), spoke to the contributions made by local residents.
"The residents really did great work. Not just afterwards but in the middle of the incident. You know, I saw residents going to the Tim Hortons getting coffee trying to bring them over to the first responders, to say you guys need a break here's some supports…All through the night, because that went on for a really long time."