5 lessons from the Goderich tornado

I grew up 15 minutes north of Goderich. The town has been a big part of my family’s life for many years. I have Aunts and Uncles, cousins and friends who live in Goderich. My mom did her weekly grocery shopping at the Zehrs in town. My brother Chris and his wife got married at the Victoria Street United Church. Most of my family attended GDCI high school (and many cousins still do now). We snuck many bags of homemade popcorn into the Park Movie Theatre on the Square.

The church my brother and sister-in-law got married in.

So when I saw my Facebook feed light up with posts about a tornado in Goderich this past Sunday, it was quite startling. And then as the photos and videos of the devastation started coming through, it really hit home. Here are a couple videos that have been posted:



Here are five reflections I’ve had in light of the recent tornado in Goderich.

  1. We are part of the physical world.It’s easy to forget sometimes that we are connected to nature. Last Saturday I was visiting a friend in Toronto. We went all the way from downtown to north of Yonge and Sheppard without once stepping foot outdoors (subways, the PATH system, cutting through malls, etc).Now that I’m self-employed and working from my home office I can easily go for most of the day without knowing what the weather is doing outside. If not for having to let Stockie out for pees, I could easily be completely disconnected from the outdoors.But every now and then Mother Nature reminds us of her awesome presence (and increasingly so it seems as climate change brings about more frequent and more intense storms). Seeing the destruction in Goderich was one of these reminders for me.
  2. You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. Ain’t that the truth. We take so much for granted in our lives. We assume that the Burger Bar on the Square is going to be there if we’re looking for someplace to eat. We assume that we’ll have power when we flip our light switch or that we’ll have a roof over our heads when we go to bed. We tend not to appreciate these seemingly simple things until they’re taken from us.It’s a reminder to take stock of the little things and take the time to silently acknowledge their importance in our lives.
  3. Nothing lasts forever. I’m reminded of the quote from Heraclitus who said “Everything flows and nothing abides, everything gives way and nothing stays fixed.”  I heard a couple interviews from people who said the whole tornado experience lasted 12 seconds. It’s startling to see how much can change in 12 seconds. Popular landmarks demolished, century-old trees uprooted, family homes torn apart. It’s sad to see and hard to comprehend. But I think that a spirit of moving forward is needed and for people to not cling to an unalterable past.
  4. We’re lucky to live in Canada.The strength of a natural disaster is obviously a key factor in how much destruction it causes. But so is the quality of the disaster zone’s infrastructure and its capacity for emergency response and rebuilding efforts. Look at the recent earthquake in Haiti. A terrible natural disaster made exponentially worse by high levels of poverty, poor infrastructure and a helpless government. The drought in East Africa: another example where poverty continues to exasperate an already desperate situation.The quality of our infrastructure here in Canada, the effectiveness of our response measures and having resources like the $5 million Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has pledged all help to reduce the storm’s impact.
  5. Goderich and area residents kick ass. I read an article online where they quoted Goderich-resident Sean Carver as saying “We cleared out the streets ourselves, we just walked out there to get chainsaws and started clearing it…The town actually comes together and everybody starts helping everybody. There’s kids walking down the street with hack saws, teenagers just helping anybody that needs help.” Knowing the quality of people who live in the Goderich area, it’s no surprise to me how they’ve rallied to support each other and their community. I know many of my family in the area have been active in the clean-up efforts as well. I have no doubt that Goderich will be living up to its title as the “prettiest town in Canada” in no time.

You can help out the Goderich relief and clean-up efforts too. The United Way of Perth Huron has created the Goderich Tornado Relief Fund and you can donate by visiting http://www.unitedwayperthhuron.ca/Home.html. You can also text UCARE to 45678 for a five dollar donation.


Funny stories. Good advice. Josh Martin is the author of the book “Simple(ton) Living: Lessons in balance from life’s absurd moments.” Click here to learn more and to purchase a copy.

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3 Responses to 5 lessons from the Goderich tornado

  1. Julie says:

    I was directed to your blog through a friend a work and I just wanted to say well done! Your approach and ideals are very much in line with my own. This post in particular resonates with me. The tornado in Goderich is indeed a wakeup call that while we are at the mercy of mother nature, we only seem to notice her/appreciate her when she gets angry. I’m off to spend the weekend at a friends cottage and will be thinking about your post while I kayak around the lake, appreciating it just a little more today.

    • Thanks Julie! Hurrican Irene is another recent example of people waking up to the fact that we aren’t separate from nature. Have a great weekend at the cottage (cottage weekends rock, as does kayaking).

  2. Pingback: Living in the moment | lovethesmallstuff

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