By Sue Tiffin
Published June 15 2017
The funeral home has dried out but the business has not.
After this year’s flooding in Minden wreaked havoc on the Gordon A. Monk Funeral Home again Kirsten Monk who shares the Bobcaygeon Road business with her husband Barry Cray was exhausted.
Now a month later she still breaks down after the stress of working through long nights to prevent major damage to the building while continuing to serve the community’s needs.
“We’re still surviving and still somewhat laughing” said Monk. “I try to have those meltdowns when no one’s around.”
Funeral services with the help of service clubs and churches have continued. The business usually averages between 10 and 12 funerals a month and is now holding an average of eight services while work on restoring the building continues.
“What can you do?” said Monk. “You have to keep being there and helping out and doing what you can.”
The funeral home has been dried out since the flood waters ravaged it after a sump pump quit on May 9. Drywall has been replaced and bathrooms have been retiled. The family hopes the business will be completely up and running again hosting all services in the building on Bobcaygeon Road by mid-July.
“I know there are rumours that we lost the business or that we’re moving the building but we are working with people who have a plan” said Monk. “They’ve figured out what we need where to place the stones to help us barricade so we don’t have to sandbag as much next time.”
Monk estimates her family used 12000 sandbags in an attempt to stop flood waters from seeping into the building. She noted that after two major floods the boulevard and front of the building has sunk and cracked and will need repair but is grateful for community members like Tom Prentice who have worked to stabilize homes affected by flooding before.
This time around Monk said her insurance company has been efficient and helpful in the aftermath of the flood.
“They are there for us 110 per cent” said Monk. “They couldn’t believe how hard we worked to keep the water back for as long as we could. They’re so grateful we tried to keep the costs down. But we can’t take the credit there’s no question about that.”
Monk has much praise for the community that stepped in to help while the family did what they could to prevent flood waters from the Gull River from taking over their business and the family home located next door. Trucks were stopping with sandbags people were delivering meals and even when Monk tried to turn help away the helpers persisted.
“My friends and mother were showing up and doing our laundry” said Monk. “They said ‘get over it we’re taking your laundry’ so we would have dry clean clothes. You can’t believe what a community we live in.”
When the Hydro trucks showed up Monk said they feared the worst – that Hydro would be shut off and the 20-odd sump pumps humming through the night would be rendered useless.
“We thought ‘please please do not shut off our Hydro’” said Monk. “The workers showed up we opened the door and they said ‘no we’re here to save you.’”
Monk said the Hydro team brought two crews side-by-sides and trucks to bring in sandbags and built the moat that surrounded their property.
“They were getting us gas out of their vehicles so we could keep pumps running” she said. “They were checking on us all the time.”
Despite Monk having better insurance coverage this year she still advocated for action in preventing future flooding to prevent the stress the water events bring to the residents and business owners.
“You see the stress on their faces you see their pain it’s awful” she said. “They need to address this river. They need to protect people. Otherwise this town is going to die.”
People have been compassionate to Monk worried that their own claims pale in comparison to both her house and business being underwater.
“It doesn’t matter how big or small your claim though you feel violated” she said. “Anyone that’s affected by this is affected. We all feel the pain whether it’s $15000 or $250000 or more.”
Though the repeated flooding has caused immeasurable stress for Monk and Cray she is adamant the business will stay where it is.
“We’re not a big family but because of this community I feel I have a big family” said Monk. “They care they show up they tirelessly work.”