In response to extensive flooding after the heavy rains of Saturday and particularly Sunday, Ward 4 Councillor Sam Merulla went on an email tear, sending several messages to his fellow council members and local media accusing the city of misplaced priorities and negligence.
The City reported yesterday that over 1,000 homes have experienced flooding in their basements, particularly in the lower city, as well as a power outrage that, among its effects, impacted the Woodward Wastewater Treatment Plant. The Plant ran for several hours on back-up generators.
Merulla, whose ward was heavily affected by the flooding, sent out the first email early yesterday afternoon, "demanding" that the city use municipal Future Fund money to support victims of flooding, as well as renewing a call to have Council ask for federal stimulus money to replacing aging infrastructure.
In addition, he accused City Council and many local media organizations for supporting the 2015 Pan American Games bid while some city infrastructure remains in a poor state of repair.
[S]hame on the Hamilton Spectator, City Council and all media outlets that supported the mother of all unfocused priorities, the Pan Am games bid on the backs of hard working Hamilton residents who have to contend with feces floating in their basement as a direct result of pie-in-the-sky gross expenditures supported by unfocused initiatives.
The Spectator has endorsed the city's Pan Am Games bid, which would commit municipal money toward building a stadium and a velodome for the 2015 Pan American Games. The head of the bid committee is Jagoda Pike, who resigned as the publisher of the Toronto Star in September 2008 to concentrate on the bid.
Between 2001 and 2006, Pike was the publisher of the Hamilton Spectator, which Torstar has owned since 1999.
Merulla's subject line, "Let's build a stadium", may be a reference to a previous altercation between Merulla and Ward 2 Councillor Bob Bratina on the announcement that US Steel was closing its Hamilton and Lake Erie operations. At that time, Merulla wrote an email to council and the local media that simply stated, "Let's build a stadium!!!!!!!" [sic]
Yesterdy, Merulla sent a follow-up email about an hour later, calling the flooding situation "a state of emergency" as residents have experienced flooding up to nine times in the past five years. He also demanded that "all levels of government come to our aid!!!!" [sic]
Two hours later, Merulla forwarded an exchange with Bay Observer reporter Peggy Chapman stating that he had received "over 150 calls in four hours" and announcing:
The media and council is being put on notice. I'm not available for a self-serving photo op when residents are in tears over feces floating in their basement.
He also called the Bay Observer an "irrelevant periodical" and told Chapman the Observer should "endorse the reconsideration of the Pan Am Games".
A little over an hour after that, Merulla issued another email "demanding full compensation to all residents who have been impacted by the storm and the human feces floating in their basement."
Thousands of residents have been impacted by the recent failure of Hamilton's infrastructure. Merulla is demanding full compensation to all residents that are expected to pay for flood damage but are denied from insurance companies due to the state of Hamilton's infrastructure deficit!!!! Let's build a stadium? I NOT! Let's get our house in order and provide fundamental services rather than pie in the sky bullshit!!!! [sic]
Meanwhile, the city issued an update stating that seven pumps were running at full capacity to reduce water levels in the Wastewater Treatment Plant's wet well, and asking residents to avoid unnecessary water use to reduce the amount of water running into the sewer system. The city also affirmed that the city's municipal water is safe to drink.
The following roads and facilities were closed as a result of flooding:
Various other local roads were also closed. For more information or to report a problem, residents can call a flooding hotline the city activated: 905-667-3157. The city also opened a relief centre at the Valley Park Community Centre, 970 Paramount Dr.
By 9:00 PM, the Wastewater Treatment Plant was back to running on main power rather than its back-up generators.
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