A Whole Lot of Mulch for Guelph

cleanup_july2013I’m feeling pretty good about my city today.

You can tell a lot about a place, and its people, by its response during and after an unexpected event, like a massive thunderstorm, for example.

We’ve had three major storms since April, all resulting in significant private and public damage to trees, hydro lines, etc. Response is swift to emergency situations, and Guelph Police, Fire and EMS work in harmony to triage and respond to life safety situations, often while the storm is still in progress. Guelph Hydro crews and Public Works are partners in the response, getting power restored and keeping roadways clear for traffic and transit. They’ve got systems in place and great people on the job. They’ve done it all before, and inevitably will again…

But what about the “customer service” side?  That’s when a city and its people really shine.

The storm that rolled through last night gave me a first hand glimpse of the human impact side of service delivery.

When the storm hit, my boulevard tree cracked, and landed on my roof and front porch. I wasn’t too worried as damage to the house appeared minimal, but I was worried about the suspended limb over the sidewalk for public safety reasons. I called the Public Works 24 hour line (which, btw, is 519-837-5628) and got a real live person, who was calm and had a good sense of humour given the volume of calls. I thought this would be a good opportunity to be anonymous (I did not want any perception of a different level of service because of my council position) so did not give my full name. She outlined the process for response priority and ensured that I knew my call was in the hopper. Great service.

cstdanmoseyThen I took a walk post-storm down to Royal City Park – wow, what a mess! GPS was on site on Gordon Street, responding to a tree limb on a car — a woman and two kids — and Cst. Dan Mosey was simultaneously securing the perimeter, keeping gawkers (including myself, gulp) away from suspended limb risk nearby, clearing the road of minor debris, assessing immediate risk in the park, and providing comfort to the three shaken passengers. Outstanding service.

A few block away on Fountain Street West, three trees had fallen into the roadway and damaged vehicles and obstructed traffic. One resident brought out a chainsaw and, with the help of a few other neighbours, began removing the larger pieces to re-open the road. Traffic was moving again with a half hour. Amazing citizen teamwork.

This morning, Public Works responded to the downed tree at my home address. I watched as Supervisor Ed assessed the risk, engineered the removal, called the team, and in less than an hour, it was hard to tell there was ever a tree on my porch.

It was the customer service aspect that struck me the most. The team was a mix of forestry staff and redeployed road staff. They were professional, talked to neighbours, and exhibited teamwork at its best. Awesome job.

As they finished up the job and headed off to the next address (and many more that day), one of the crew said it best.  He remarked, “We gotta look at the bright side….now we’ve got a whole lot more mulch.”

So to all the men and women working last night and today to clean up our city — Public Works, Guelph Police, Guelph Fire, EMS, and Guelph Hydro — and our residents who are helping out where they can removing debris off sidewalks and storm drains, a big thank you!  You make Guelph a great place to live! 

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