05/30/2012 09:21 EDT | Updated 07/30/2012 05:12 EDT

Thunder Bay flooding prompts national appeal for help

A Canada-wide appeal for financial donations for flood victims in Thunder Bay is underway as the city tries to cope with the devastating effect on residents and many homes with basements knee-deep in water.

The Salvation Army and The Canadian Red Cross have launched national appeals to assist residents during this unprecedented flood.

“Thunder Bay residents have always been extremely generous to Canadians and people in other countries during natural disasters and emergencies,” said Mayor Keith Hobbs in a press release.

“We’re hoping to receive similar assistance to deal with the result of the extreme amount of rain.”

Known as the Thunder Bay Flood Fund, the national appeals will help homeowners recoup some of the costs of dealing with this emergency.

“Hopefully we will see an influx of donations to remove some of the burden off people who are coping with the cost of clean up and other concerns,” said Major Merv Halvorsen of The Salvation Army.

To donate to the Flood Fund through the Salvation Army call 1-800-SAL-ARMY (725-2769) or visit To donate to the Canadian Red Cross call 1-800-418-1111, email or visit

Hobbs also said he will request a special council meeting Wednesday to approve a resolution directing the city manager to take all necessary actions to secure financial assistance for city flood victims. Hobbs said the city knows of about 1,000 basements flooded due to this week's rains.

Discussions are ongoing with the provincial and federal governments. The resolution is required to proceed further with formal requests.

City administrators said there has been an outpouring of community support and offers of help, but now there needs to be a co-ordinated effort. The city and partner agencies are also starting door-to-door visits to homeowners affected by the flood emergency to assess the needs of residents.

"With help from the Red Cross and the Salvation Army, we will start door-to-door visits to homeowners in affected areas to assess needs," said Hobbs in a press release Tuesday.

"As well, we are working together to establish a fund to provide a way for folks in the community who would like to help people in need."

Focus on assessing damage

Hobbs said that, as flooding starts to recede, residents are reminded of ongoing risk and the city is changing focus to assessment of damaged infrastructure followed by repairs.

“Although the damaging rain and flooding came on quickly and suddenly, the full recovery will take time – days and even weeks,” said Hobbs.

The city reported it has received numerous offers of help and a Facebook page dedicated to the flood situation has many people talking about how to provide assistance.

Much of the post-flood woes have been exacerbated by the city’s sewage pumping station, which broke down in the wake of the flooding.

With the help of a temporary pumping station, the city is processing just over half the typical amount of sewage through the Atlantic Avenue Secondary Sewage Treatment Plant.

The city’s Declaration of Emergency will remain in place until further notice.