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Upcoming events


THE OTTAWA SCHOOL OF THEATRE presents an all ages production of Treasure Island in the Richcraft Theatre at the Shenkman Arts Centre. Showtimes Thursday, April 18 and Friday, April 19 at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday, April 20 and Sunday, April 21 at 1:30 p.m. Tickets $20 for adults. Students and youth 25 and under $10. To purchase visit /www.tickettailor.com/events/ ottawaschooloftheatre?

TAPROOM 260 presents Michael Ben-Shalom live from 8-11 p.m. at 260 Centrum Blvd. For more information visit https://taproom260.com/events/.

TAPROOM 260 presents The Underground live from 8-11 p.m. at 260 Centrum Blvd. For more information visit https://taproom260.com/events/.

CLASSIC PIANO RECITAL – Orléans pianist Emily Hou will be performing works by Chopin, Mozart, Rachmaninov and Liszt at Kanata United Church as part os the Beaverbrook Community Concert Series. The recital will start promptly at 3 p.m. Kanata United Church is located at 33 Leacock Dr. in Kanata. For more information visit beaverbrookccs.ca/ 2024/03/24/april-21-emily-hou.

THE ORLÉANS BREWING CO. Trivia Night from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Call (613) 834-9005 to reserve your spot. The Orléans Brewing Co. is located at 4380 Innes Rd. near the Innes Road McDonalds.

GRANDMAS AIDING GRANDMAS 10th Annual Card Party from 12:30p.m. to 4 p.m. at St. Helen’s Church, 1234 Prestone Dr. Tickets $35 includes lunch, door prizes, raffle and market. Call Barbara at 613-824-3524 or Sue at 613-834-4706.

 

 

Sisters displaced by explosion face uncertain future
Fred Sherwin
March 2, 2023

Mariam Pepin, shown with her twin daughters, and her sister Maxence have been left without a home after a gas explosion rocked their Avalon neighbourhood on Feb. 13. FRED SHERWIN PHOTO

Sisters Mariam and Maxence Pepin have a lot to be thankful for. First, of all they managed to escape the Orléans gas explosion that destroyed a number of homes under construction in Avalon and severely damaged several more nearby homes including their own without sustaining any injuries.

Second, Mariam’s three-year-old twin girls seem to be completely unaffected by the blast which happened right behind their own home.

Third, the sisters have parents who live nearby who were more than happy to take them in until they find alternative accommodation.

Fourth and finally, dozens of people, most of who are complete strangers, have come to the sisters’ aid by donating to a GoFundMe page that has been set up by some of Mariam’s fellow teachers at a nearby elementary school.

Mariam was just entering her twins’ bedroom when a large boom interrupted her morning routine at 6:17 a.m.

“I went to their bedroom and I didn’t even get to their cribs when I heard the loud boom and I heard what sounded like metal crashing on my floor,” recalls Mariam.

It wasn’t until she looked out the door of the girls’ bedroom towards the back of the house that she started to recognize the broken window glass and torn ceiling.

“It felt like the noise was not going to stop,” says Mariam. “It was really loud and I had no idea what it was.”

The gas explosion that rocked the Orléans South community of Avalon on Feb. 13 blew out the windows in Mariam Pepin’s bedroom, ripped off the moulding and produced a large hole in her wall. PHOTO SUPPLIED

The blast was so strong that it caved in the garage door at the front of the house, cracked all the walls in the rear rooms, collapsed the ceiling in the upstairs bathroom and even shattered the mirrored glass doors of her bedroom closet.

Overcome with a motherly urge to protect her children, Mariam gathered up her two girls and immediately took them outside.

The first thing she saw and heard was a construction working running past her home yelling “Bomb alert! Bomb alert!”.

“It was really confusing. I wasn’t sure whether to go back inside or stay outside,” says Mariam.

Just then, her sister emerged from her own house next door with a roommate. The two sisters had bought the houses at the same time so they could be close together.

They were supposed to take possession in October and then January. They were finally allowed to move in on Feb. 7, less than a week before the explosion took place. In fact, they hadn’t even finished unpacking.

Maxence was asleep when the explosion happened. The blast blew out her bedroom window and covered her bed with glass. Fortunately, she slept with the comforter covering her head and wasn’t injured.

After the two sisters met outside, they climbed into Maxence’s car and in just a couple of minutes they were at their parents’ house, also located in Avalon.

In fact, they had been living with their parents while they were waiting to take possession of their own.

After they tried to explain to their parents what had happened, they started seeing the first images of the devastation on the Internet. It was only then that the gravity of the situation began to sink in.

“My mother heard the explosion and she was actually texting me to see if I had heard it too when we arrived. Of course, she didn’t know we were so close,” says Pepin. “At first I thought the explosion actually happened in my house. I thought my house had exploded and then I started seeing the scenes and saw that it wasn’t my house, it was the houses being built behind us.”

The two sisters were allowed back into their houses the next day to retrieve what-ever essentially items they could such as clothes for Miriam’s daughters. Other displaced residents were allowed to retrieve their medication and family pets.

It’s the only time they’ve been allowed into their homes, which have been deemed unsafe since the explosion.

The two sisters have been in touch with their insurance companies since the incident and are in a holding pattern. None of the damaged homes will be livable for months.
In the meantime, Mariam and Maxence have been looking for a place to rent on a short-term lease.

Since it is not known how long the insur-ance process will take, and given the fact that the sisters had to leave a lot of the possessions behind with an uncertain future, Mariam’s colleagues at the school where she teaches have launched a GoFundMe campaign that has already surpassed its modest goal of $5,000.

“I feel so blessed, I have no words,” says Mariam. “I guess people have been really touched by our story.”

Mariam and sister plan to use some of the GoFundMe donations to hire a structural engineer in anticipation of needing a second opinion in case they end up in a dispute with their insurance company over the damage done to their two homes.

“There is a worry that they might try and repair the damage rather than rebuild our houses. To me it seems pretty obvious they need to be rebuilt. I’m wouldn’t feel safe living there with my daughters if they just tried to repair the damage.”

Rebuilding means that Mariam and her sister will have to live elsewhere for quite some time and that could prove costly. They both want to make sure the insurance company reimburses them for all their expenses.

In the meantime, they have their parents, they have each other and they have a community that is willing to support them in any way it can. If you would like to make a contribution visit https://gofund.me/8542f839..

 
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