The Ice Storm: One year on, a closer look at how community helps
Over the past year, as part of a new research project looking at adults, over the age of 65, in East York, WoodGreen interviewed 360 older adults about how they are managing. Who do older East Yorkers call when they need something? Do they use community services? Do they know their neighbours? What are their needs as they age, and what can they offer?
Last year’s ice storm provided a perfect lens for these questions. When the ice storm hit Toronto, thousands of east-end residents were without power, heat and sometimes water. In “Toronto the Good,” we had to pull together as a community.
In a brief report, released to coincide with the one year anniversary of the storm, we found a lot of goodwill in the community, and a lot of folks who are still isolated and vulnerable.
• 78% of the older adults reported being affected by the storm, most frequently for 3-4 days (44%). Places like Leaside and Benning Heights/Governors Bridge were the most likely to be affected, but usually for a shorter time period. Those in apartment buildings had a harder time coping.
• East Yorkers looked out for its older residents. 40% of the seniors reported asking for help during the storm, usually things like food, phones or batteries. 39% reported being given help, even though they had not asked. One in five (21%) of older adults were able to offer help to others.
• The best source for information during the storm was through the media. 43% older adults said they relied on radio or TV. One in ten seniors said they did not get any information. 6% relied on community supports or strangers.
• 28% of the older adults said they had to move, to find temporary shelter and warmth elsewhere, most often with family.
• When asked how they coped overall with the challenges they faced, 27% said they did very well. 30% said they did well, and the remainder (42%) said they did fairly or poorly. Those who had lived longest in their neighbourhood or who had higher incomes were the most likely to report coping well.
To see more preliminary findings, see here
The full report will be out in the new year, but these findings tell us that strong community connections are important for all, and most especially for those more vulnerable around us. These bonds we share kept us all safe.