Chateau Cornwall residents temporarily relocate

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By Shawna O'Neill
Chateau Cornwall residents temporarily relocate
Fire crews loading several walkers to help residents relocate. Nick Seebruch, TC Media.

This article has been edited to add a link to our breaking news story on the April 9 evacuation. 

CORNWALL, Ontario –  All 93 residents and any pets of Chateau Cornwall have been temporarily relocated after a broken pipe resulted in quick flooding and an evacuation on Tuesday, April 9.

Residents have briefly taken up occupancy at Nav Centre, McConnell Manor and some have opted to stay with family.

“Based on care needs and requirements, we have triaged them from there,” explained Janine Reed, Senior Director of Communications and Public Relations for Chartwell.

Reed confirmed that all residents were accounted for and assessed by staff upon relocating to McConnell Manor on April 9. Reed said that families were sent letters about the incident. She commended all organizations who were involved in the relocation process, including Cornwall Fire Services and Nav Centre.

Reed said that crews are currently assessing what damage has been caused by the burst sprinkler pipe.

“At this point, there isn’t a set time the building will be (reopened)…we will be able to understand that within a day or two,” said Reed.

Cornwall Fire Chief Pierre Voisine said crews were called to the retirement residence around 1:17 p.m. on April 9 and assisted with evacuating residents until 4 p.m. as the burst pipe on the highest floor of the building flooded all the floors below it.

“This is not something we do every day, certainly,” said Chief Voisine. “If there’s an event or situation in these buildings…with relatively fragile clientele…we usually shelter and place, or evacuate…but it’s a pretty special case to evacuate all floors.”

With water and electricity working at the same time, the safety of the occupants could have been compromised according to Chief Voisine, so a swift evacuation was necessary. He was very impressed with how many members of his team, including new recruits and their mechanic, handled and helped with the matter. The level of compassion his staff showed to residents, as many were nervous and uneasy with the incident, inspired him.

“Some were telling them not to worry, we’re going on a little field vacation, or a little ride…(there was) a certain level of humor,” said Chief Voisine.

Chief Voisine said the experience was an eye opener, and any incident involving multiple vulnerable tenants may be more challenging than others. He commended Chateau Cornwall on their organization and preparedness throughout the incident. Chief Voisine suggested it would be beneficial for operators of similar businesses to meet and discuss what happened, how it happened and how to debrief from the incident in the future. He said he would be open to facilitating such an event.

“All hands were on deck. All in all, I think everyone helped out. It wasn’t just (Cornwall Fire Services)…it was a city response,” said Chief Voisine.

Cornwall Transit provided buses to help evacuate the residents and Chartwell also called in school buses from Roxborough Bus Lines Ltd.

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