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Interval House women's shelter 'severely damaged' by Saturday storm

The shelter says it is in need of donations to help with the cleanup, which can be made through their website.
2022-05-22 hydro one 7
Aftermath of the Ottawa storm that happened on Saturday, May 21, 2022. (Photo/Hydro Ottawa)

An Ottawa women’s shelter is another casualty of the weekend storm that left hundreds of thousands of residents across Ottawa and eastern Ontario without power and resulted in several deaths.

Speaking to The Sam Laprade Show on Wednesday, May 25, Keri Lewis, executive director of Interval House of Ottawa, said the shelter has been “severely damaged” by the storm and is in need of donations to help with repairs.

As Lewis explained, despite staff getting the storm warning on their phones, no one envisioned the severity of the storm and the damage it would cause.

“It’s quite dramatic and scary,” she said. “Everything just got dark and it was like a freight train that went barreling through. We lost all visibility for a short time, but when we had visibility again there were trees down everywhere. On our property we had a tree fall on our roof and a number of mature trees uprooted and fell across our yard and over our fences.”

Inside the building, there’s also a pile of debris that’s about 50 m long and 10 m wide, Lewis added.

Some of the residents left the house and decided to stay with friends for a few days so they could have access to power, she explained, as the shelter is still without power although it is running on a backup generator.

“We are operating,” Lewis said. “We still have 14 women and children staying with us right now and we’ve been very fortunate to have some of our community partners provide hot meals, and another sister shelter offered for our residents to go over and take some warm showers and do some laundry.”

Extra staff has also come in over the weekend to help out, especially with emotional support and general logistics.

However, due to the storm, the Interval House’s crisis line and Unsafe at Home chat line are unreliable.

At this time, the shelter is unable to accept new clients.

But Lewis is also worried about women who remain in abusive situations in the community, as disasters such as last weekend’s storm often escalate dangerous situations.

“The message we’re trying to get out is that while we have our crisis line and our text and chatline open, our reception is patchy at times and so I would just really encourage people to spread the word that our community partners are open and haven’t been too severely impacted and so to please reach out to other community resources if you can’t get through to us.”

If someone is in crisis, Interval House suggests calling Nelson House at 613-225-3129 or Maison d’amitié at 613-747-0020 or 613-744-7789.

Donations are being accepted through the Interval House of Ottawa’s website.

Anyone interested in donating can do so by clicking here.

Listen to the full interview with Keri Lewis on The Sam Laprade Show below:

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