Peter Reynolds is a 'wonderful and selfless man', says neighbourFriday, September 20, 2013 by: Donna Hopper
Beginning late on Monday, September 9, intense thunderstorms rolled through the area and with them came torrential downpours that drenched Sault Ste. Marie and the surrounding area.
Reports of wide-spread flooding shortly followed.
For some Old Garden River Road residents, the events that occurred in the early morning hours of Tuesday, September 10 will never be forgotten.
And for those residents, initial feelings of fear and turmoil have shifted to anger and dejection.
Peter Reynolds, a commercial account executive with Dawson and Keenan Insurance, discovered approximately one inch of water in the basement of his Old Garden River Road home shortly after 3:30 a.m.
Living in close proximity to the Root River, Reynolds expected some flooding to occur.
However, with two sump pumps running, he was surprised to find that the water in his basement had risen to nine inches in less than 20 minutes.
He then noticed flooding in his backyard and at 4:10 a.m. he made a 9-1-1 call to request assistance in evacuating the area.
Reynolds told SooToday.com his call was redirected to Sault Ste. Marie Fire Services at which time he was reportedly told that area residents were in no immediate peril, and leaving the area was up the individual.
It was at that time that he and his wife Marianne packed up thier vehicle and attempted to vacate the area.
With water levels rising, escape plans were foiled when their vehicle flooded and stalled in the street.
This is when Reynolds sprang into action and became the neighbourhood hero.
At 4:25 a.m., he began evacuating residents, starting with Carolyn McLean and her 10-year-old daughter, Brooklyn.
After a quick check of his basement where the water had risen to four feet, Reynolds noticed McLean and her daughter trapped at the end of the street in their stalled vehicle with water up to the windows.
He rushed to their aid, but the swift current and pressure of rising water made the vehicle's doors impossible to open.
As the car began to float away, Reynolds feared it would be washed into the Root River and roll over.
He broke a window and extracted the two occupants as his wife Marianne guided them through the darkness in waist-deep water (chest-deep on Brooklyn) to the safety of higher ground.
Reynolds told us that members of the Sault Ste. Marie Fire Services arrived on-scene shortly thereafter at approximately 4:50 a.m., but offered no assistance.
He took it upon himself to evacuate the remaining neighbours, including a number of children, and was finally able to leave the area at 6:15 a.m.
"I was terrified for everyone because I didn't know how high the water was going to get," Reynolds told us.
He and other area residents are angry with City services and their lack of warning or response to a potentially deadly situation.
"[The Fire Department] did not help evacuate any one and seemed uninterested in the urgency of impending flood," he reported to us. "They did not warn the people on the other side of Old Garden River Road to evacuate. They did not direct traffic, offer any assistance, shock counselling, empathy, comfort, blankets, etc. They did not offer to help carry children to safety as we walked by them in water that was waist deep."
Reynolds estimates that in a relatively short period of time, the Root River near his home rose 14 to 16 feet after a culvert washed out under a section of CN rail track near Highway 17 between Fourth and Fifth Line.
"We're down river from the washout and we feel as though we were left to die," he said.
Carolyn McLean's husband, Wayne Ralph who was working out-of-town at the time of the incident, describes Reynolds as a "wonderful and selfless man."
"If my wife and daughter had died right there in the road, and I came home to find this out, I don't know what I would have done," Ralph told us. "We're all feeling a sense of abandonment. Something very serious happened here, and it's not being taken seriously."
Another Old Garden River Road resident, Annette Wishman, told us that "an eight-foot wall of water came down on this neighbourhood" when the culvert upstream washed out, leaving her entire property under water.
She and her family live across the road and downriver from Reynolds and Ralph.
She said at 6 a.m. members of the Sault Ste. Marie Fire Services assisted in getting her dog and two children to safety, but she was nearly swept away as she attempted to wade through the current.
When the water finally receded, she found her gravel driveway and basketball net swept into her neighbour's backyard, between eight and 10 feet of riverbank washed away, and dozens of trees and piles of debris from upstream scattered along her property.
When the garage on her property was constructed, it sat 20 feet from the riverbank.
Due to the extreme and sudden erosion caused by the flood, it now sits just eight feet from the edge of the Root River.
"The power of water is a frightening thing sometimes," Wishman told us as she guided us through the damage.
Now, moving forward, these residents of Old Garden River Road are looking for answers and assurances that something like this won't happen again.
"We need to know, just for peace of mind, what happened up there and why that 9-1-1 call was not acted upon," Wishman said.
The group of concerned residents has been in discussion with City Councillors Brian Watkins and Pat Mick, as well as Mayor Debbie Amaroso about having a state of emergency declared for the area.
The issue is expected to be brought up at the next City Council meeting on Monday, September 23.
SooToday.com spoke with CN Communications Officer, Lindsay Fedchyshyn, who told us that as soon as the rail line culvert washout was discovered on the morning of September 10, the site was shut down and repairs began.
Crews have been on-site working around the clock to restore passenger rail line service and repair the extensive damage.
She said that CN adheres to a strict maintenance schedule which includes annual bridge inspections and weekly rail inspections.
"Our track inspections are done in accordance with federal regulations," Fedchyshyn said. "Those regulations call for twice a week. This track was inspected that week. I have verified with our Regional Chief of Engineering that no abnormalities were noted during the inspections."
As for damage and personal recovery, Reynolds told us that his section of Old Garden River Road lost five vehicles due to flooding, and a large percentage of other home and property damage is not covered by insurance.
He estimates that repairs to his home and property will cost him $25,000-$30,000 out-of-pocket.
Wishman says that any money she receives from the insurance company for the loss of basement contents will be spent on restructuring and shoring the banks of the Root River that border her property.
"Time and time again, permits that would allow us to shore the banks on our property were denied," she said. "We were trying to be proactive to prevent this very thing from happening. Now it's going to cost us $20,000. Insurance doesn't cover that."
As further information is provided by agencies questioned about this incident, SooToday.com will post updates and developments.
Pictured: Although the water had already begun to recede, the level of the Root River (far left side of the photo) is even with the Wishman's flooded property. The river normally flows approximately eight feet below the bank.
Additional SooToday.com coverage of this story
eadiecougs 9/20/2013 12:49:23 AM Report
The fire dept did nothing it is unacceptable dont surprise me good old sault ste marie
Pakadeva 9/20/2013 2:59:25 AM Report
Obviously this gentleman saved the lives of the 2 people in the vehicle with water up to the windows. He's a hero! To then go on, putting himself at risk, with his wife, helping others to safety who may otherwise have perished, especially small children is very commendable. Yes indeed, I think a state of emergency should be called, to help with properties & roads & washouts near train rails & a host of other things. What a wonderful writeup about a wonderful man. NICE to know the Soo has people like this in our midst.
donsdeerden 9/20/2013 5:25:53 AM Report
Peter and Marianne should be recognized for their life saving efforts.Not only at a local level but National as well.While concerned for their own safety they never left the area until their neighbor's were safe.In almost total darkness of night,rising swift flowing water never deterred the rescue effort.
This is not the first time this couple has come to the rescue of an individual in need.I can personally vouch for their assistance to me on August 10 2013.
Indeed two of the best,you could have for a friend and neighbor.
sinikka 9/20/2013 6:43:38 AM Report
I think that the city of sault ste. marie has many , many questions to answer. For those that have lived here for years , we know we have had that much rain before with no flooding. However this was before carmens way and other developments were present. Did the city change the flow of water when these developments took place. The underpass on wellington west was flooded twice in a month . Are we going to expect this type of problem every time we get a heavy rainfall. Someone has some explaining to do .
frizz 9/20/2013 6:56:44 AM Report
Meanwhile our city persists in debating a state of emergency two weeks later (This mayor is so done at the next election!)... The fire department are back to sitting there collecting salaries for drying out their boots, total shame on you for not helping those people...not in their job descriptions or perhaps against their health and safety policy...911 sitting at Quattra with no true information on the situation...nor the capability to add people to help handle the 550+ calls they got..(Paid practically minimum wage for that role)-but we don't have real emergencies here do we! This gentleman and his wife who stepped up to the plate are wonderful people for doing what they did. And we have to sit here and can do nothing about what our useless politicians are NOT doing, until the next election. What....the.....hell-o here!!! We must have a way to come to the support of our community...I have heard nothing of community action groups, fundraisers, nothing....there are hundreds of homes with issues this huge and not one word has been uttered publically to help them... Even if we have a fundraiser, there is no public evidence of effort to record names and estimates for damage...nothing....so fellow Saultites, any suggestions here? I think as the water is subsiding here we need to realize that it is not "life as usual" in our community. People cannot afford to recover in many cases and therefore will live in mould, devastation, etc with nothing done to help them in their plight.....Can we as a community figure out how to help our families here or is there a way to get so loud that City Council actually does something for a change?
SimsDrum 9/20/2013 7:06:14 AM Report
Hey let's give the firefighters a break. Peter probably woke them up and they were still groggy
Ski-Dude 9/20/2013 7:25:25 AM Report
Sorry to say that the Soo and area news rarely makes the "National" news level.....state of emergency east of us, train line down, heroes, lack of emergency contingencies...the death of a beautiful young women due to a drunk driver (sorry unrelated to current topic)....all worthy news however on the grand scale (outside of northern Ontario) I feel that no one really cares. CBC would rather report on transgender 11 year old children and Miley Cyrus!
Ski-Dude 9/20/2013 7:26:23 AM Report
You are, without a doubt, a hero Peter!
teets 9/20/2013 7:52:42 AM Report
Thumbs up for Peter Reynolds ! You are truly a hero and hopefully SSM services will use your experience as a learning tool for any future disasters.
FunMan 9/20/2013 8:08:10 AM Report
Emergency crews not responding, employee charged at Essar Centre--seems like Council and CAO have some problems on their hands.
Time to review the HR policy for new hires regarding background checks and annual performance appraisals that were supposed to be done when the new continuous improvement program was brought in about 8 years ago.
sparkey222 9/20/2013 8:16:16 AM Report
Way to go Peter!!! This city needs more people like you! Shame on the Firefighers who are supposed to serve and protect. Someone really dropped the ball!
Pebble 9/20/2013 8:26:40 AM Report
Keep paying fire for job not well done but I wonder if other other small fire dept would do the same .NOT, Time to rethink how we hire and don't hire people and not just relatives
Snowdon 9/20/2013 8:38:40 AM Report
I'm trying to keep a running count of who SooToday commenters think is terrible/corrupt/scum/losers/idiots.
So far over the last year we have:
-The Fire Dept
-Other city employees
I'm sure I'm missing a few.
Basically anyone in town but yourself.
J&L 9/20/2013 8:57:08 AM Report
Yeah for Peter Reynolds!
And Snowdon...I TOTALLY AGREE!
These negative commenters need to find a job or a hobby other than cutting down the entire town! We do have good people left here! Many for that matter!
HONEST1 9/20/2013 8:57:42 AM Report
I've known Peter for almost twenty years. Not surprised by his actions!! Truly a stand up guy. Always put other people first. As far as our useless fire department I think they are the biggest jokers around. Total waste of taxpayers dollars!!! The fire department should be privateized! Never seen so many firefightes doing side work like sprayfoam, landscape work home reno's etc. Shame on them for taxing away work from the self employeed guy meanwhile they make 90k a year, pension benefits at there day job and doing nothing. Most of them don't even buy local.
true canadian 9/20/2013 9:07:02 AM Report
I read the whole thing,, but I think I will wait for the pay per view movie coming next,,, common, everybody was affected,, the soo did fine.
kamen 9/20/2013 9:37:19 AM Report
I'm glad everyone made it out okay because one man stepped up and helped, our city services need new, improved training to ensure that they also know what to do in this situation. Red Cross has sent many of our volunteers out west to help them, but we need them back here helping their own community. What happened that night was almost inevitable and was bound to happen eventually, but when someone who lives on the shore of a river calls 911 about flooding, I expect our city services to get their asses out their to at least investigate. What would have happened if this man wasn't out there, a mother and child could have been washed into the river....that would have been on our city services. Also I am pretty sure you only have 2 weeks after something like this to claim state of emergency, will the 23rd be too late and are they just saying that to make everyone calm down?
Paddlenut 9/20/2013 9:41:57 AM Report
You forgot "They". You know, that ubiquitous entity that has the power to solve any problem we can throw at it, but which constantly lets us down.
"They really outta fix that"
"They should lower gas prices"
"They should bring world peace"
"They should lower the dollar"
"They should bring a damn Costco to town!"
jake02 9/20/2013 9:42:00 AM Report
great work Peter and wife .residents dont be so quick to crap all over the fire dept. they usually do one hell of a thankless job year round they bust there butts to save lives and protect our homes answer emergency calls and the list goes on . If they didnt do what u expected there was a good reason . If u ever need them and see them in action risking there life to help others you will very quickly change your tune i hope it never happens to any one .
westie 4 9/20/2013 10:13:49 AM Report
Wow we have a lot of work to do in the Sault to ensure the safety of our residents. We are obviously having drainage problems that we have not encountered in the past and their has to be a reason why!! We need to do some serious planning for emergencies in the future. I am very disappointed that the fire department ( our first responders) were so lax in caring for these stranded people and thank God for Mr. Reynolds who was able to help people in distress. This could have been a lot worse if not for him. The City better come up with a better Emergency plan for the future!!
jojo12345 9/20/2013 11:19:18 AM Report
we better never have a big tornado or mud slide because all of us we will dies
Kelly Turner should have stay here instead of helping in the West when her own peoples need help around here
wakeup 9/20/2013 11:42:28 AM Report
Of course the city changed tbe flow, carmens way was put it an changed everything as well as other areas which have new sewers which are larger then the old an the old cant compete with the flow so it backs up in the smaller sewers, why after all these years the under pass flood from two minor storms that didnt last very long, yes alot of rain came down an the ground was saturated which rivers an such would be affected but should have no bearing on the sewer system all throughout the city, worst part is this is going to continue an just like thr city road repair an they fall apart in barely two years wasting crap loads of or tax dollars, because of the simple fact you cant lay a couple inches of road down on top of old road an not expect it to rip off , a proper repair in a road of no less then five inches thick for it to last many years, an just like the way they dig up only certain areas an replace sewers an such, the old connecting system flow is hugely affected, twenty some years an tell me in that time we never have rain like this, bullcrap its rained for days on end, an never once my basement flood, but can forget about blameing anything to the city, same as the fire department who stood there while a neighbour hood man helped an saved others, its gone on far to long that the employees of this city hide behind their unions an do as little as possible an bitch for more money, this fire department should be ashamed at how their lack of help during this time stands out, as well as this mayor talkin like we have a state of emergency, pffft what a crock of cow dung, an only took herhow long to even say anything, as i have said before she is a clown, who same as in her last position, was mia all the time , its funny how these pupets get elected, but thats always been the game here
Bob the builder 9/20/2013 11:56:31 AM Report
As my Dad used to say, "if you ever need a helping hand, look at the end of your arm". In a crisis like this you can't wait for other people to do the job, you have to pitch in and do it yourself. This is what this person did and I congratulate him. After the storm we had gravel and mud from one end of the street to the other. My 80 year old neighbour was out on the street with a shovel, scooping up the gravel and putting it in his driveway.
Neon_Angel 9/20/2013 12:07:40 PM Report
I'm glad everyone is ok but this type of situation hasn't exactly happened frequently in the Sault (2 times doesn't count as frequent). I think we need to give Emergency crews a little bit of slack. I'm sure many of them worked through the night not only on flood related issues but also on other 911 calls they were dispatched to. It's not like all other calls ceased during that time. I understand it can be a scary situation but dealing with it and looking for ways to improve in the future doesn't start by ridiculing the same people who work throughout the year to help those who need it.
Lone24 9/20/2013 12:16:12 PM Report
Way to go to Peter and his wife for being so caring for human life, unlike some that were told about a situation were people could of died. That's a joke about what was said about the firemen, come on what do you think they get paid for. If their to groggy to get up then they should find another job. The Sault is so far back in everything its' unreal what would they do if we had an even bigger flood. I know there are a lot of you out there that like to praise the Sault so highly but you really have to start looking at reality. If we had half as many people in this city like Peter and his wife it would be a better place. Also the ones that say there are so many negative comments about the Sault on here are afraid of reading about the truth.
lucyp 9/20/2013 12:46:25 PM Report
I think this is horrible for sault ste marie's Firefighters not to be doing their well paying jobs. I grew up down the line, which I do not anymore however I know of one lady who as a volunteer firefighter along with her many other jobs she has, would have been in there in record time. Please can you imagine if this happened to go another way? This could have been a very different story..I remember when my nephew locked himself in the car,funny now, not then, we called the fire department, and not very long after that 2 fire trucks and 8 firefighters showed up...with a teddy bear...yet they did nothing really here...not understanding this. People taxs well spent?
jamt22 9/20/2013 1:54:29 PM Report
PETER AND WIFE YOU ARE TRULY TWO ANGELS SENT FROM ABOVE...YOU SHOULD BE RECONIZED FOR YOUR HEROISM...PUTTING YOUR LIFE AT RISK TO SAVE OTHER PEOPLES LIVES.....IF ANYONE WANTS TO START A FUNDRAISER FOR HIM AND ANYONE ELSE THAT HAS BEEN AFFECTED....LETS DO IT.....I HAVE A CATERING COMPANY THAT WILL SURELY HELP OUT...THE MOOSE LODGE IS INEXPENSIVE TO RENT FOR A NIGHT....THE ONLY PEOPLE THAT CAN HELP AND WHOM ARE WILLING TO HELP OUT THIS CITY AND COME TOGETHER IS US THE PEOPLE THAT LIVE HERE....F CITY COUNCIL...THEY NEVER DO #$&& FOR ANY ONE...SORRY IM IN CAPS...LOL...JUST GETTING YOUR ATTENTION....EMAIL ME IF ANY ONE WANTS TO HELP OUT THIS COMMUNITY.. :0)
Working Man 9/20/2013 2:55:08 PM Report
This article clearly desribes Peter Reynolds being a hero, which he obviously is.
It describes the lack of help they had from the fire dept. People in charge there--no not every fireman--should be responsible.
Please read the article before commenting.
rlmac 9/20/2013 3:49:12 PM Report
The Reynold's actions are definitely heroic! As our so many others I have heard about or know. No thanks to our emergency services folks!
My neighbourhood suffered more than (3) feet of quick flooding and as the rain came down the water continued to rise. For hours we overlooked a lake surrounding our homes and yet no emergency personnel came through checking on us. It took a couple of my neighbours wading through the water, going door to door, checking if folks were OK. It was frightening to say the least and prior to the rain stopping, we had moved most of our valuables and electronics to the second floor, as the water was continuing to rise.
The firetruck came through the water at the corner intersection, stopped, shone it's spotlight down the flooded street and drove away! The PUC truck actually drove by a couple of times and never stopped! What would it have taken to use a speaker system (or bull horn) to advise people re: their power to flooded homes!
The next day, as more rain threatened, a gentleman in our neighbourhood in his raincoat was going from drain to drain for a few blocks in all directions, cleaning out the debris as the rain once again flooded the streets and yards for awhile. His basement had about (4) feet of water in it and his insurance was denied, but he continued to help out his neighbours! No city crews in site ever! (3) days after the rain stopped and the flooing subsided, we had (2) street sweepers RACE (I mean RACE) one behind the other, down the street and out of the neighbourhood without so much as a "sweep" of the crap and debris deposited on our street. It was about 4:30 pm so we assumed they were going off shift and in a hurry to get to the depot. It's been how many days now and we still have not had any debris or crap washed off our streets!
I believe this: As a former municipal councillor in another community, running a city is a BUSINESS. Taxpayers are customers and we buy services with our tax dollars. In today's business world, when a business manager or leader can't successfully manage a business or fails to meet the expectations of its customers, they are FIRED or SEVERED!
The responsibility to ensure business success starts AT THE TOP! I believe it is time to CLEAN HOUSE! The Mayor and Alderman can be "fired" when election time comes (and we need to remember this crisis and others at next election time). The Chiefs of Police, Fire, Board of Works, CEO and anyone else who had the authority to ensure the workers were doing their jobs both during and after this particular crisis, NEED TO BE FIRED as well. The lack of leadership is unacceptable to me personally. When I recall how the Mayor of Calgary did such a tremendous job supporting and leading his constituents day-in/day-out during their crisis and how he brought the Calgarians together to help and support each other, I just see red at the lack of leadership in our city. Shame! Shame!
BlackHelix 9/20/2013 4:47:11 PM Report
1. Was anyone in need of medical assistance? Did anyone have to go to the hospital? No
2. Was anyone in need of police services/intervention? No
3. Was there a fire? Was there a threat of fire? No
When I see 4 feet of water in my basement, I don't put myself in danger by wading outside in the water....I just go upstairs and wait.
Pakadeva 9/20/2013 7:40:31 PM Report
Well well BlackHelix, you are obviously part of the problem. It's ok with you if Mr. Reynolds & his wife had let that Mother & child get washed away in the river & drowned? That's not an emergency situation to you? It was ok for people practically drowning in their basement apartments to go upstairs...........oh wait...there was NO upstairs for them, so in your view, stay inside & drown or be electrocuted.
Your compassion is heartwarming NOT!
My property was affected, but, not my home, however, I believe that all these people with stink water, sewer, mold developing are in dire need of help for simple health reasons, but, you stay upstairs because IMHO you're too self centred to help anyone.
Working Man 9/20/2013 9:35:23 PM Report
I don't mean to be rude, but you are an absolute moron!
4 feet of water was in his basement with two sump pumps running--All within 1 hour?? Water up to the windows in their vehicle?? Doors couldn't open because of the current??
What were those occupants supposed to do, smart ass? Can't open a window or even their vehicle doors because of the current? The water was rising so much in such a short period of time and caused all this extreme panic. They could have died idiot!!
Part of second line road caved in. The sidewalk became a cliff!! Yet we still have people on this stupid site commenting that we have had more rain than what we received prior to this and had no problems. When exactly in the history of Sault Ste Marie did we experience that amount of heavy rainfall accumulation in that short period of time? It seems funny that it didn't result in nearly as much damage before. And this time it did all over the place.
5.5 inches of accumulation in 45 minutes?????? Give your head a shake!!!
Big Deal 9/20/2013 10:18:09 PM Report
And we pay HIGH taxes for.......??? Everyone in this city should immediately NOT pay their taxes and shut City Hall down once and for all!!! We should unorganize this city because we don't get any services from the city anyways!!! Other than garbage pick up, which I'm sure everyone could get to the garbage dump every week, that's about ALL they are good for!!! I say unorgainze and give the road maintenance to the MTO...the roads up north are WAY better kept and maintaned than here in the Sault, summer AND winter?? What good are they for anyways??? City Hall, you are a bunch of criminals and morons and you are no good for nothing, EXCEPT taking people's money!!!