Tornado victims helped, honoured at fundraising concert

Ottawa's music industry is coming together to launch a fundraising concert Saturday in support of tornado victims.

Victim says Saturday's show is a chance to heal

A tornado ravaged through Shannon Mallen's Arlington Woods home on Sept. 21, 2018. (Shannon Mallen )

It took only minutes for six tornadoes to destroy lives in and around Ottawa and Gatineau in the late afternoon and early evening of Friday, Sept. 21.

Residents left with almost nothing who have been working to rebuild for weeks will get a break at a fundraising concert this Saturday at TD Place held in their honour.

"I believe in the power of music, particularly live music, to bring people together and help us heal," said Erin Benjamin, a leader in the Ottawa music industry who helped put the concert together.

"I'm hoping people that were severely impacted by the tornadoes, if they come, will feel that the cities of Ottawa and Gatineau care about them."

The After The Storm concert will feature The Jim Cuddy Band, Matt Mays, Sarah Harmer, Kellylee Evans and more. 

Shuttle buses from hard-hit Dunrobin and Arlington Woods will bring people to the concert, which aims to help stock up food banks and provide support for people displaced and isolated by the storm.

The concert, organized with the help of United Way and CUPE 503, will take place Saturday at the TD Place arena from 6 p.m. until 11 p.m.

It's free, including an OC Transpo ride there and back, but organizers will be taking donations to support the United Way's tornado recovery work.

'It's a chance to come together'

When Shannon Mallen returned to her Arlington Woods home five days after the storm, water trickled down like rain drops as she scavenged for her husband's wedding ring and the keepsake boxes belonging to her seven children. 

"I walked into the house and it was raining inside," she said.

"I just broke down in tears — that's when the gravity of the situation hit me," Mallen said.

Shannon Mallen's home is being reconstructed after it was destroyed by a tornado that ripped through the Ottawa-Gatineau region on Sept. 21, 2018. (Shannon Mallen)

Left with no home, clothes or food, Mallen said she can't imagine how she would have managed without the help of her neighbours.

They washed their clothes, packed their kids lunches and took them to school. 

"[Arlington Woods] is far from being beautiful, but it still has all the these wonderful people," she said.

"Even if I won the lottery, I would never move because I love this neighbourhood."

Shannon Mallen, her husband Jimmy Mallen and their seven children were forced to move into a temporary rental after a tornado destroyed their house in Arlington Woods. (Shannon Mallen )

Mallen and her family are now living in a rental home on Prince of Wales Drive, where they will remain for a year until their home is rebuilt.

She and her family will take the shuttle to the concert on Saturday.

"For my community, I hope it's a chance to come together and heal a bit," she said.

"I hope there is a sense of healing and [that] eventually we will all be back [in Arlington Woods]." 

A mother of seven who lost everything after a tornado hit her home in Arlington Woods will be attending a fundraising concert honouring of tornado victims... 15:31