Lakehead University says about 45 people are now taking refuge on its campus, after the school opened its residence facilities to Thunder Bay's flood victims last week.
The shelter offers relief from the devastation in people’s homes — people like Carol Dagenais, her husband and three children, who just moved into a campus townhouse on Saturday.
"I was able to sleep last night ... with so much taken off my shoulders," she said.
Dagenais said toughing it out at home after the flood was a nightmare, from "the stench coming up from the basement," to "not having the adequate materials left over from the flood."
Last week, she went to the Red Cross to get blankets. But instead of blankets, she came back with a clean and dry place to stay. Concerned that the mould growing in Dagenais’ basement was a health hazard, the aid agency referred her family to Lakehead.
"The lady ... was persistent in trying to get us out of the house and in to here and said that this would be a safe haven for us to come to," she said.
David Hare, the university's director of residence services, said his staff are happy they can offer some relief to people like the Dagenais family.
"We just make sure the beds are available and they have linens ... and they have three meals a day," he said.
It's not known yet how long the flood cleanup efforts will take, but Hare said — until students return at the end of August — the university has room for hundreds of people.
Lakehead's cafeteria serves three meals a day and offers bagged school lunches for children.
Dagenais said staying in residence with her husband and three children means she doesn’t "have to take care of the house, I don't have to worry about the smells. I don't have to worry about opening the windows up,[or have]
the fans going in the basement. There's so many things I don't have to do right now."
The city has spearheaded cleanup efforts with help from groups like the Red Cross and contracting community. People in need of assistance are asked to call the city at 98-FLOOD.