London

Money donated to Woodman explosion families tops $200K

More than $200,000 in donated money has now been distributed to those affected by the Aug. 14 house explosion on Woodman Avenue in London's Old East Village.

Resident says fundraising effort 'Shows how strong our East London is'

Jeremy Beyea's house was damaged in the Aug. 14 explosion, but he's grateful to have received a $250 cheque, his portion of money raised by the community. (Andrew Lupton/CBC)

More than $200,000 in donated money has been distributed to those affected by the Aug. 14 house explosion on Woodman Avenue in London's Old East Village.

In a news release issued Tuesday, the Old East Village Community Association (OEVCA) — which is overseeing the Woodman Families Fund — says the money was dispersed based on an agreed-upon formula that takes into account the number of people in each house. 

In the days after explosion, donations began to pour in from corporate donors and the community. 

Families most affected, those who were forced from their homes for an extended period of time, each received $2,000 immediately after the explosion.

Since then, other families evacuated after the explosion have received $250 to cover immediate costs, such as replacing food. 

The news release says many of the families decided to donate back their $250, asking that the money instead go to those most in need. 

The explosion rocked the neighbourhood in London's Old East Village just after 10:35 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 14, after a car smashed into a house at 450 Woodman Ave., at the intersection of Queen's Avenue.

Firefighters at the scene detected a gas leak where the car had struck the house's outside meter. The area was evacuated and shortly afterward, the house exploded.

Three homes were demolished by the blast and others near the blast site were badly damaged. More than 100 people were evacuated immediately after the explosion. 

A 23-year-old Kitchener woman who police say was driving the car, now faces 12 charges, including impaired driving causing bodily harm. 

Residents grateful for the help

Woodman Avenue resident Jeremy Beyea lives close to the blast site and his house was damaged. He received a cheque for $250 and says he's grateful for the help.

"It's the community coming together, it's helped us all out a lot," he said. "We didn't expect anything. With days missed off work, it was definitely a comfort to have it. This just shows how strong our East London is."

It's the community coming together. It's helped us out a lot.- Jeremy Beyea

The OEVCA plans to withhold a small portion of the money donated "to assist other residents that have also suffered loss." 

The release says those funds will be released on an "as-needed basis and the process for distributing these funds is still being determined." 

"OEVCA wishes to extend profound gratitude to the remarkable generosity of donors whose outpouring of support and love have helped their fellow Londoners through this difficult time." 

Many residents have still been unable to return to their homes after the Aug. 14 explosion on Woodman Avenue. (Supplied by Const. Rebecca Elliott)

They also issued a thank you to volunteers, along with Lifespin, Libro Credit Union and the London Community Foundation, for "lending their support and expertise to our community with this endeavor." 

Libro kicked off the donations with a $10,000 contribution. Tim Hortons donated $33,000.

More details about the Woodman Families Fund are available on the OEVC's website

About the Author

Andrew Lupton is a B.C.-born journalist, father of two and a north London resident with a passion for politics, photography and baseball.

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