June 29, 2016
While we are well into the restorative activities following the flood of June 15, there can be no doubt that some of us are still smarting from the hammering we received. Almost to the day from the event of five years ago the sky opened up with a deluge that brought back bitter memories. But not all bitter. I remember writing about the selfless commitment many of our citizens showed in battling the water. We saw the same commitment this time.
This time around we were better prepared in most locations. The culverts and bridges we lost in 2011 were replaced with larger, more robust units designed for the 100-year flood. We needed them; the somewhat-less precipitation this year fell in less time. On learning of the potential rainfall, the Director of Public Works, well aware of the potential, took the precaution of strategically locating excavators to clear debris that would be coming down the creeks.
It is hard to imagine the amount of rock and gravel that can be transported by a little river on the rampage. Three track hoes working 24-7 have removed scores of truckloads of the petrous material from the 50th Street bridge on Windrem Creek alone. (Reason for the closure of the clinic and post office.) This gravel is now stockpiled down near the water reservoir ready to be used in street repair and construction.
I want to commend the citizens and businesses who, anticipating the danger, took their own precautions to minimize the damage. No doubt this resulted in much less total destruction and much less ultimate pain.
It is always a source of good feeling to be reminded that we are not totally alone in our confrontation with the uncontrollable forces of the natural world. Tumbler Ridge called to let us know that they would help in any way possible and Lynn Hall, Mayor of Prince George offered his city’s support. It is a wonderful world we are in. Would that we all behaved in like manner.
Senior governments also were quick to call with concern and offers to help in any way they could. MP Bob Zimmer and Ministers Mike Bernier and Naomi Yamamoto tracked me down to assure me that they were in touch with events. This we appreciate.
While the entire senior administration and the public works staff worked tirelessly to minimize the latent destruction, and I cannot name them all, I do want to mention the work of the Fire Chief and the one in charge of emergency response, Leo Sabulsky, for his own untiring efforts to ensure that no bureaucratic lapse compromised our eligibility for the government support to which the District of Chetwynd is entitled.
At least one touching human-interest story comes out of the flood. Baby Romaine, 11 months old, was trapped on the wrong side of a washout on Route 97. Little Romaine, his mom and grandma were kept by kind residents over night but Romaine needed goat’s milk to survive and no goats were in his vicinity. Emergency calls placed to the right people resulted in a chopper being sent to his rescue. Chetwynd goats provided the milk and kind people the care until baby and momma and grandma could be reunited with family.
Merlin Nichols, Mayor