Water recedes but stress levels rise
|By Lisa Gervais - Editor | May 25, 2017|
Customers of the Head Inn on Water Street continue to face a traffic barricade when driving towards their appointments.
A sign tells them the road’s restricted to local traffic only.
Some park and walk to the salon while others now know it’s okay to drive around.
But, being faced with a main artery being closed for weeks is having an effect on this business, residents and users of Water Street in Minden.
“People are not coming to Minden because of the flood, and because they’ve heard that Water Street is closed,” said Janet Hirstwood as she waited for a customer this past Friday (May 19).
“And, the biggest thing if you live in Minden Hills is you’re stressed out over it. My customers’ stress levels are high.”
The continued closure of the Bobcaygeon Road bridge to vehicles, meanwhile, is also taking its toll. On the Victoria Day long weekend, people did drive to either side of the bridge and walk across it. Some returning cottagers came to check out the flood levels. Some came to patronize businesses. Suwan’s Thai, for example, reopened Friday (May 19), a full two weeks behind schedule due to the swollen Gull River across the road.
The nearby River Cone has not yet opened and Monk’s Funeral Home is still surrounded by sandbags and clean up equipment.
Ron Gambell, who co-owns Suwan’s, said they are making the best of a bad situation.
He said Suwan cooked over the two-week period the restaurant could not open and now they are installing freezers to sell frozen take-away meals.
He said people are parking on the other side of the bridge and walking to the restaurant.
They sustained no damage this time around, but are going to claim for assistance for two weeks’ loss of business.
The Bobcaygeon Road bridge closure has also impacted Minden health services and Archie Stouffer Elementary School.
Caroyln Plummer, the CEO of Haliburton Highlands Health Services (HHHS), said the hospital has remained fully functioning during the state of emergency. As for the bridge closure, she noted that access to the hospital, Hyland Crest long-term care home, and the Minden Family Medicine clinic has been re-routed.
Detours have been established via Scotch Line Road to the north of Minden, and Deep Bay Road to the south.
“We have worked collaboratively with the Township of Minden Hills and the Central East Local Health Integration Network to ensure information about the detours and access to the hospital have been communicated widely, and to ensure detour route signage included the ‘blue H’ to assist people accessing our facility,” she said.
“We have also collaborated with the County of Haliburton EMS; they have added an additional ambulance to help cover the area north of the bridge, and it is stationed at the Minden hospital. We have been communicating internally as well, to ensure that our staff are aware of the detours and are able to safely commute to work.”
Plummer added that the service is “saddened” by the flooding and their hearts go out to those affected.
“I have been extremely impressed with the tireless efforts of everyone in the Minden community and beyond who have come together to help support the community during this time; HHHS is proud to be part of such a strong community.”
ASES principal Jane Austin said it is taking some staff longer to get to work but with a little proactive planning, they are managing.
She said students in Grades 5-8 are typically allowed to walk downtown with parental permission during second break but the school’s suspended the privilege for safety reasons until the water is back at a safe level. She added that many of their buses have had a route change but “this was all handled by the transportation department and the bus company, and went extremely smoothly from the school’s perspective.
“Other than that, we’ve taken the flood on as an adventure in which we all share.”
According to Minden Hills township, an engineering review of the bridge found settlements and erosion.
“The structure will continue to remain closed to vehicular traffic, but has been reopened for pedestrian use only. The township will be seeking further reviews of the structure, which will be reopened at the earliest opportunity as public safety and the protection of infrastructure permits.”
The municipality said Water Street will remain open to local traffic only.
LISA GERVAIS is the editor for The Highlander.