I’m no stranger to the perils of living rurally in our beautiful and very heavily forested province. However for the past two weeks my beautiful area of the province has been steadily disappearing due to unprecedented wildfires.
The town I live in was put on evacuation order last Sunday and I voluntarily evacuated my animals & I to the coast. As of this writing we have been out of our place for a week. During that time the wildfires have been raging out of control and evacuation alerts and orders have now affected more 37,000 people. Routes in and out of the affected areas have been constantly open or closed because of the fires. Hundreds of thousands of acres have been burned and pretty much everything from Prince George through to the Okanagan regions are under notice of some sort. In essence, a third of our province is on fire. It is certainly the worst fire season and conditions that I have ever seen. And having lived rurally most of my adult life, I’ve lived through some pretty harsh fire seasons, even working as a forestry fire fighter in my late teens and early twenties. I’ve never seen anything like this.
Once the adrenalin rush of trying and then succeeding in getting emergency transport to the lower mainland for my horses and chickens and the pigs moved to Kamloops, I’ve been in a state of flux. Actual news (not gossip or hearsay) is sporadic now and even a week later I can dissolve into tears randomly as I read posts of the amazing people who have stepped up to help evacuate animals, deliver supplies to those still manning the fort at various communities, and those offering accommodation for evacuees. Strangers one and all – who until this horrific event occurred had no reason to wonder or think about one another.
I’ve always been somewhat sympathetic to the plight of refugees but now to some extent I can relate to the emotional upheaval so many have suffered; the shock, the disbelief, the hopelessness, the fear & uncertainty, the anger & frustration and the absolute numbness that you deal with minute by minute, in such a crisis. Then there is the hope; the one tiny spark that keeps us all moving forward.
And yet for me – it’s only been a week. It’s likely to be a few more before I am able to return home. At this point with fires still raging out of control in the South Cariboo – like so many others – I’m stuck helplessly waiting, watching and praying that my home is still going to be intact when this is over. I’m not overly attached to any particular thing, so if my place doesn’t make it, I won’t be devastated – but I will be sad, because I love my home. And the thought of having to start over is really tough and not something I look forward to.
However, like my friends and neighbours and others throughout the Cariboo – we will forge forward and we will be stronger for it. We are already stronger because of the amazing outpouring of love, support and prayers from people of all walks of life and from all over our amazing country.
We are all one.
We are a community and a community where love trumps sacrifice & tragedy.
We are #cariboostrong