A generous donation of airline tickets from an anonymous source sent Sidney’s Kenny Podmore to ground zero of the Lac Megantic disaster site last week.
Podmore arrived in Lac Megantic on Nov. 1 to see first-hand the destruction of the blast that occurred after a train derailment in the small town on July 6. The explosions killed 47 people.
“The purpose of my visit was to deliver a cheque for $3,027 that was raised from a fundraiser I organized early in September,” said Podmore.
Podmore traveled to Lac Megantic with his stepdaughter-in-law Lucie who is French Canadian and lives in Quebec (she was able to translate for him).
“It was shocking and very emotional,” Podmore said.
“As we approached the little town we stopped for directions to the recreation centre. When I got out of the car there was still the smell of burning in the air.”
Podmore, who went on the trip as a personal endeavour (not as a councillor — there was no cost incurred to the Town of Sidney), said the downtown area of Lac Megantic is completely cordoned off and some new construction is taking place.
“All around were large mounds of black soil and on the corner was a lone rail tanker which was serving as a memorial. It had French words sprayed all over it. I was told that the words were a mix of grief and anger,” he explained.
Podmore presented the cheque and a gift of framed Sidney prints to deputy mayor, Johanne Vachon.
“I explained how the people of Sidney had raised the money and for a few moments we all stood silent with tears in our eyes,” Podmore said, adding he also gave the town a video clip that contained greetings from the Sidney Volunteer Fire Department.
Chris Creighton-Kelly and his wife France provided the translation and The Sidney Meet Up Women in Business made the video possible, he added.
“The Deputy Mayor said that everyone there is still in shock and that it would take the town a long time to recover,” Podmore said.
“I was honoured to make this journey, I won’t forget for a long while. I did it for the people of Sidney who came forward and supported the fundraiser, all of which made me proud to call Sidney my home. This was truly Canadians helping Canadians.”