Chatham Kent municipal employees and members of Chatham-Kent emergency Services went door to door in portions of Wheatley during the weekend providing information on emergency preparedness and answering questions concerning the August 26 explosion in the town’s downtown core.
Officials spoke with nearly 300 individuals and left notification for more than 250 others within one-kilometer diameter of the explosion at 15 Erie Street North.
An important part of the message was to inform residents to have a family emergency plan and emergency kit prepared.
Fire Chief Chris Case said work on finding and managing the source of the gas emission is ongoing.
“We can’t say for sure that further evacuations won’t be necessary. Community safety remains our priority so please be prepared.”
A number of residents on the weekend reported noticing a smell.
In each case, emergency personnel responded with detection equipment and no gas was detected.
Possible causes of the smells included agriculture related activities, smell produced by lake inversion now underway or an odour from offshore gas wells.
Municipal officials are concerned regarding unfounded rumours being circulated on social media regarding the situation.
“We are asking that residents contact the municipality if they have questions or concerns and not spread gossip on social media channels,” said Chatham-Kent Chief Administrative Officer Don Shropshire.
“If there is something to report, we will provide information to legitimate media outlets and use official municipal social media channels including the subscription list. We are committed to getting accurate Information to citizens in as timely a manner as possible. Rumors and uninformed and misguided theories simply upset residents.”
Several hundred residents have joined a subscription email list to provide them with updated information regarding relocation of financial, medical and postal services as well as community-based relief efforts.
Wheatley residents can join the list by filling in a form on the municipality’s website here or by calling 3-1-1 or emailing email@example.com with contact information (name, phone number, address, email address).
Local community aid efforts are being coordinated through the Active Citizens of Wheatley, the Wheatley Business Improvement Area and the Wheatley Food Bank.
Information about those efforts can be found at the active citizens Facebook group.
Chatham-Kent Mayor Darrin Canniff attended a community fund raising fish fry Sunday and said he was moved by the spirit and attitude of Wheatley citizens.
“Wheatley strong isn’t just a tag line; the citizens are determined to get their community back. I’ve spoken to people right across the municipality and everyone in Chatham-Kent is behind Wheatley.”
A technical advisory group including municipal emergency, building, engineering and utilities along with the Ontario Fire Marshall’s Office and the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry is examining how best to determine the source of the leak.
Private sector officials are providing technical advice to the TAG group as well.
The municipal resource centre at the Wheatley arena remains open daily from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Currently 12 families continue to live in temporary accommodations provided through the centre.
Evacuees should call 519-351-8573 during office hours and ask to speak to a Wheatley Crisis Case Manager.
After office hours they can call 519-354-6628 and they will be assisted with access to an on-call supervisor.
Residents who need information after hours can call 519-350-2956.