Archive for May, 2010

The 1985 Barrie Tornado Revisited

May 31, 2010

Around this time of year people in Barrie, Ontario often ask one another “Where were you when the tornado hit?”  It brings back some amazing stories of survival as well as memories of devastation and loss.

As May 31st will be the 25th anniversary, it would be fitting to reflect on what happened that day. In total there were 13 separate tornadoes, including 2 killer ones (F4 on the Fujita scale) crossing into Southern Ontario from the U.S.A.   One of the F4 tornadoes came through Barrie killing 8 people including a young man who worked across the street at a neighboring business found in the plant rubble of Albarrie. There were an additional 155 people injured as well 300 homes destroyed and at least 16 factories including Albarrie.

What I remember on that Friday afternoon was the very unusual hue of the sky.  It was a distinctive yellow-green that I have never seen before or since.  I do not recall any warnings on the news or weather channels.   Communications and early warning systems have advanced significantly in 25 years.  Sometime between 3:30PM and 4:00 PM the power went out, but we weren’t sure why. It was later learned that major transformers were hit by tornadoes Southwest of the city.

There was no scheduled evening shift.  As the afternoon shift was over for the day, it was decided to send the office staff home early.  When I left the building around 4 PM, there were only a couple of employees left closing up. The power going out in advance of the tornado hitting Albarrie was a blessing which saved our staff as well as many other lives.

That evening my husband and I and our infant daughter drove to the Kawarthas to visit relatives. There were a couple of things that stood out that evening which didn’t make sense.  First, when we stopped at the bank before leaving Barrie; there were people talking about homes being ripped apart and missing walls and roofs in an area just across from the bank and Lake Simcoe.  At the time we actually thought these people had had too much to drink.  And during the trip we saw pieces of pink insulation scattered everywhere as well as assorted debris.

Later when we saw the evening news, there was unbelievable footage of Albarrie totally destroyed. It looked similar to war pictures with piles of rubble, twisted metal and broken machinery. I remember anxiously calling my boss to find out what had happened to the employees who had locked up.  He assured me everyone from Albarrie had made it out safely.  One employee had actually driven home in the tornado and saw cars flying around in the air.  When she pulled her car over to the side of the road, she said it sounded like an army was pounding on it with baseball bats.

25 years later I feel fortunate to be here to have these memories as well as happy that Albarrie has rebuilt and prospered.

– S. Johnson


How is a needle punched textile made?

May 27, 2010

The history of needle punched fabrics go back a long way. The art of making fabrics by entangling fibers together started about 6300 BC and through time has evolved into the state of the art process that exists today. The first needle punch loom was constructed around 1860’s in Europe and today’s equipment is based on this concept.  The speed and quality of non-woven products, along with the possibility of uses, has greatly grown in the 20th century.

The use of these products varies from dryer sheets to engineered geo-textiles and many uses in between. The methods may change from process to process, but the main component common to all needle punching, is the needle itself. These needles can be different in size, but the main function is to grab the fiber and intertwine it with other fibers in a perpendicular motion to the web of income fibers.

The advantage of non-woven products are many and one is that a non-woven will not fray if cut. Because of the method of needle punching and entangling of fibers together, there is no interleaving of materials. Woven or knitted fabrics will start to breakdown at a cut because the integrity of the textile is broken. To prevent this, usually the edge is stitched to prevent this occurrence.

Needle punched textiles can be made in various thickness, which is accomplished by added more layers of webbing and also using different deniers of fibers. Also the amount of needle punching can affect the thickness, which increases the density of the textile. The increased density will give these products some unique properties to be used in some specialized applications.

To add to the versatility of textiles, polymers can be added to these products to enhance their scope of potential end uses. These polymers can be harden to create a rigid textile, or left cured but flexible to suit numerous requirements.

In conclusion, needle punched products (non-woven) should be look to solve some of the potential problems that industry may have. They can vary from materials used in process control to components needed to help manufacture better consumer products.

-N. Chappell

Yo Mamma!

May 10, 2010

To all of the Mothers out there, I wish you a happy Mother’s Day. If you are reading this and you have no idea what I am talking about, you seriously need to call your Mother immediately. And send flowers. Because you forgot Mother’s Day and you are in big trouble. I have prepared some facts about Mother’s Days from across the world that you might dazzle your Mother with. These facts may or may not help if you have already forgotten to call.

  • Mothers have enjoyed popularity all over the world, in every culture. The first Mother’s Day was thought to of been celebrated in Ancient Greece in the form of a festival to honor Cybele, Mother to the gods. This festival was held around the vernal equinox.
  • The tradition of Mother’s Day in the United States was started on February 28th 1909 as International Women’s Day.
  • Africa has had Mother’s day celebrations prior to European colonization.
  • In the 1920’s, due to an extremely low birth rate, Germany promoted Mother’s Day as an incentive for Mothers to have more children. In 1938, the government would give out awards know as the Mother’s Cross to all women who had four children or more.
  • Over the years Mother’s Day has swelled in popularity. It is now the most popular day of the year to dine out at a restaurant in the United States.
  • According to IBISWorld, a publisher of business research, Americans will spend 2.6 billion dollars on flowers, 68 million on greeting cards. 7.8% of the US jewelry industry’s annual profits.

When purchasing a Mother’s Day gift you might consider certain factors. Were you a real pain as a Child? Do you still live with your Mom? Has she ever had to bail you out of the county jail? If any of that sounds like you, you might consider getting your mom something pretty nice. For instance, I was a real pain as a teenager and I once reduced her birdbath to rubble. Therefore she gets a designer bag. For all of the personal sacrifice it takes to be a mother, all of the unspeakable things that she had to clean up, we should really treat every day like it is Mother’s Day.

– N. Rossi, Lewiston Office