Displaced London, Ont., couple who helped neighbours after explosion now in need of help themselves
A married couple who welcomed neighbours into their business on Wednesday night after an explosion in London, Ont., forced them to be evacuated is now hoping others can help them during their time of need.
Jamie and Mike Jack live at 447 Charlotte St., one of two houses on their street deemed unsafe by officials after the explosion severely damaged multiple residences.
Eight properties on Woodman Avenue that were affected by the blast are still closed off to residents.
After the explosion, the pair grabbed their cat and important documents and made their way to Jamie’s business, Curly Girl Home Decor, on Dundas Street.
They opened the doors of the family-owned business to about 20 people and some pets overnight on Wednesday.
Two days after giving some of her neighbours a warm place to stay, Jamie is now in an unfamiliar position in which she is the one asking for help.
“We’re really big on helping other people that are in need, and we always think that there are other people who are worse off than we are, which is why it feels so weird to ask,” she said.
“It’s a really weird feeling right now to have to ask for help and be vulnerable like that. It’s definitely not something we’re used to.”
Community support in the Old East Village neighbourhood where the blast occurred has been pouring in since the incident, and that hasn’t gone unnoticed by Jamie, who says it’s heartwarming to see so many people willing to help.
“Old East Village has always been really community-focused and helping each other out. It’s really amazing to see,” said Jamie, who has lived in the neighbourhood for almost three years.
When it became apparent that the couple would be displaced from their home for a while, Jamie says they decided to spend Thursday night at her parents’ house in Bayfield, Ont.
Jamie says she’s not sure what damage to expect at her home, but the couple is hopeful they can at least grab their vehicle from the property in order to live a somewhat normal life while their house is uninhabitable.
She says the severity of the situation didn’t sink in until she started seeing her backyard on the news.
“It was like a lake. There was just so much water,” she said.
“To be honest, I think we were just so naive because we didn’t fully know what happened. We just figured everything was going to be OK and we’d be able to get back.”
Guy Rameau lives across the street from the blast site and was able to return home Thursday night with his wife. He was impressed by the cleanup effort but noted that it’s a huge job.
“Even when we came home last night there was debris everywhere. They cleaned up the street so well, so quickly. But when we reviewed the scene this morning, it was even more devastating than we could think. It’s just so much destruction.”
Since being evacuated from their home Wednesday evening, Jamie says she and Mike Jack have picked up some essential supplies, but fortunately, friends have stepped up to help them get other necessary items.
“We went to the store and got some soap, cat food, basically just a day worth of clothes — just the bare basics, stuff like that,” she said.
“We’re really lucky to have friends who have helped us, donated work boots and some jeans for Mike so he can go back to work and running shoes for me so I can work.”
As for their Old East Village business, Jamie says she is hoping to get Curly Girl Home Decor reopened sooner rather than later but is taking it day by day.
Anderson Craft Ales says it will be accepting household items, clothing and food donations for families affected by the explosion. Several other businesses and organizations are also supporting those affected by the incident.
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