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Volunteers help homeowners battle high water in Brighton

By PETE FISHER, Northumberland Today

BRIGHTON - 

Residents and officials are hoping water levels have peaked along Lake Ontario in the Municipality of Brighton.

The community around Gosport, south of Brighton, has been besieged by water effecting numerous homes.

CAO Bill Watson and Fire Chief Lloyd Hutchinson were checking on homes along the lakeshore on Wednesday.

“I think we’re stable,” Watson, stopping for a brief moment, said. “I’m hoping this might be the worst of the lake level.

“We’re doing out best to protect people’s residences.”

If it does get much worse, Watson said they will have a hard time keeping up with it.

“I think if the lake stays stable we are probably going to be okay,” he said.

One of the present problems is a surge of water if the wind picks up from the south.

The level of the lake may not change, but the surge earlier in the week pushed levels up two inches.

Watson said at this stage there isn’t much point at declaring a state of emergency.

“Really the point of declaring a state is if you have safety issues or if you have to evacuate and so far we haven’t got one person out of a house,” he remarked.

An estimated 20 houses are in immediate danger and approximately 45 other homes have been affected.

Hutchinson said approximately 40 firefighters from Brighton and surrounding areas helped out earlier in the week and he planned to have more on Wednesday evening.

While driving around on Wednesday checking homes, Hutchinson said they’ve noticed three other homes that are now affected by the rising water.

The last time Hutchinson saw water this high was in the 1970s when there was an ice jam.

Paavo Kivisto, who is with the local yacht club, has been organizing a group of about 20 volunteers from both the yacht club and dragon boat club.

With some homeowners working around the clock keeping their pumps operational, the volunteers have been giving them a much-needed break.

“These are folks who want to come out and help residents who need assistance with monitoring the pumps,” Kivisto said. The fire department has been doing a great job and it’s a community effort to rally around people who need help.”

When the pump stopped because a fuse was blown at the home of Ganelle Burns, volunteers had to climb through her window to reset the fuse.

Burns, who with her family of five along with a dog that have only been in the house since March, is exhausted from battling the high water.

“It’s stressful,” she said. “Last week we were trying to build the wall by ourselves, then the volunteers came.

“We were going to bed each night feeling defeated. We were lost.”

Burns is overcome with emotion and gratitude at the help of strangers.

Kivisto said “that’s what life is about - helping people.”

For more information about the rising water or volunteering, people can check www.brighton.ca.

pfisher@postmedia.ca

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