Displaced Wheatley residents receive gift baskets

Demolition work at the site of a gas leak in downtown Wheatley. Submitted December 15, 2021. (Photo courtesy of the Municipality of Chatham-Kent)

Christmas will be a little brighter for some Wheatley residents thanks to a local business.

More than 100 gift baskets were prepared by Heidi’s Eats and Sweets for the residents who are still not able to go home following an explosion back in August.

The baskets, which contain fruit, candy, chocolate and gift certificates from local businesses, were delivered to the Village Resource Centre earlier this week for distribution and pick up.

“Nothing can replace being in your home during the holidays, but the gift is a heartfelt gesture while we continue to work toward resolving the issue,” said Chatham-Kent Mayor Darrin Canniff.

Excavation work continues, but during a short break on Sunday, eight displaced residents were allowed back into their homes for a short period to retrieve personal items.

In a release, Chatham-Kent officials said the buildings at the site of the explosion have been demolished, and excavation and pathway analysis are now taking place.

Some local residents detect a gas-like smell in the area, and the municipality said a technical team reviewed all on-site gas monitoring equipment, but nothing was detected. It is possible that the source of the smell is because the ongoing construction activity is disturbing the soil.