By Karen Richardson
To The Haldimand Press
HALDIMAND—From floods to disastrous fires, Haldimand County has had its share of natural, epic weather events and fires that have devastated the community. The Haldimand County Museum and Archives in Cayuga is hosting an exhibit to showcase these stories, including the below disasters.
The snow and wind storm of April 1886 closed businesses, shut down the railway line, and left Haldimand virtually at a standstill. The great flood of 1913 caused widespread damage to Haldimand County, including the destruction of the Long Bridge in Dunnville. On a hot day in September 1917, a destructive thunder storm went through Haldimand. Several barns were set on fire by the lightning, causing devastation to the rural community with wide-spread damage to buildings and livestock. May 17, 1974 was a beautiful sunny day when the residents of the Grand River watershed were surprised by the rushing floodwaters that came barrelling down the river overwhelming Galt and communities further south, including Haldimand County.
From January 28 until February 1, 1977 the area was blasted with unrelenting snow and arctic temperatures, rendering areas in Haldimand totally immobilized. Stories of heroic rescues were everywhere. Children were stuck at schools for two days, Cayuga bridge was closed, residents were opening their homes to strangers, and there was even a woman in labour who was taken to the hospital just in time by snowmobile.
The northeast blackout of August 2003 found everyone in Haldimand in darkness, some for a few hours and others for a few days.
In 1875, a new bridge was built in Caledonia to replace the wooden bridge that kept going out during the spring floods. The bridge was made of six cast iron arches and was considered to be state of the art in engineering. For over 50 years the bridge stood the test of time, but on Monday, August 24, 1925 at 3 p.m. the bridge collapsed when a truck, its driver, and one of the arches dropped into the river with such force it was said the bang could be heard all over town. At the time, there was a child walking across the bridge and several children swimming in the river. Fortunately, the driver of the truck rescued the fallen child and the other children were not hurt. The current, concrete bridge was built and completed in 1927.