Those who can help, are

In Focus column by Andrew Tripp, Aug. 27 Boundary Creek Times.

Now that the Rock Creek fire is nearly fully contained, and Hwy 33 has reopened, victims of the disaster are faced with the arduous task of rebuilding their lives. From all accounts, most that lost homes will rebuild. Undoubtedly, however, there are many who were uninsured and for them the expense of constructing another dwelling from the ground up is simply not financially viable.

Many of those were likely shocked to learn that they would receive no financial assistance from the provincial government; a kick in the teeth in my estimation, but, unfortunately, a matter of legislation. I have little doubt, however, that many will come forward with offers of help as far as services are concerned; if nothing else, this situation has clearly shown that those who can help are, and I can but salute those willing and able to support victims, be they friends, neighbours or simply people in need.

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There was some bad news from Environment Canada last week, forecasting that this dry stretch in B.C. is far from over, with the current drought expected to last until at least November.

This challenging weather pattern is the result of the phenomenon known as El Nino, which is caused by large pockets of unusually warm water in the Pacific Ocean. These, in turn, force land and air temperatures upward and, temporarily at least, wreak havoc on the climate. This year the system has resulted in temperatures three to four degrees warmer than normal, and created dangerously dry conditions. The wildfire season, which began in April, reportedly could last until the middle of November.

Moreover, this particular model of El Nino, dubbed the “Godzilla El Nino” by NASA scientist Bill Patzert, is expected to leave Canada’s west coast struggling with a low snowpack, little rain and unseasonably warm temperatures throughout the winter.

It’s not all bad news, however; the weather pattern could dump considerable moisture on arid California, perhaps signalling the beginning of an end to the drought that has crippled one of the largest food-producing regions in the world.

For B.C. residents, though, it stands to be another uncertain winter, and, unless Godzilla somehow calms down, next spring may prove another very challenging season.

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Many were disappointed by the cancellation of the Ponderosa Arts and Music Festival, and I count myself amongst them. I feel terrible for the organizers Kris and Kia, though obviously the correct decision was made. As my wife and I were driving through the area last Saturday, we were wondering if perhaps it could have gone ahead, as all seemed calm, with no apparent threats in sight.

Just an hour later, the region was once again blanketed by smoke from Washington State, and we looked at each other and nodded. “Yes, Ponderosa had to be cancelled.”

Let’s hope they are able to make a go of it next year and establish the festival as another great Rock Creek tradition.

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I had an opportunity to chat with Christy Clark during her brief visit to the Midway Resiliency Centre on Aug 16, and found her likeable and easy to talk to. I was impressed by her ability to move seamlessly through the group of fire victims that had gathered, either willingly or by coincidence, to listen to what the premier had to say about the disaster.  While certainly not the recipient of a hero’s welcome, I do believe Clark provided those impacted by the fire some reassurance that their plight did not go unnoticed.

Let’s hope the government’s financial aid package matches the premier’s enthusiasm for hugging youngsters and chatting with the local paper man.