Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Holding up a mirror

Residents of MD of Pincher Creek Division 1 thank you for all the support (Quentin Stevick photo)
Toni Lucas - The only good thing about a disaster is that you see ordinary people perform extraordinarily.  A disaster is a time when we are too busy to look in the mirror and see our own actions.   Whether that action was fighting a roaring fast-moving fire, opening homes to evacuees and some who are now homeless, baking cookies for the people who are busy or unsettled, or donating time and effort and skills or money to help, the people in this community and others have stepped up to the plate.

Division 1 work bee last Saturday (Anne Stevick photos)
Last weekend more than 280 people gathered in the Twin Butte area to help those who lost homes, outbuildings, and/or miles and miles of fencing.  Area resident Anne Stevick was kind enough to supply us with pictures from that amazing event, an example of neighbours helping neighbours, and even strangers helping strangers.

Angels Within Us delivering drinks and food to Pincher Creek's fire hall
The Pincher Creek Fire Hall and the station out at the airport was supplied with donated snacks and drinks for people who came out to fight the fire. Neighbours helped create fire breaks around properties. Individuals, businesses and organizations donated to help those in need. Fundraisers are ongoing to help those most affected. People traveled from all across Alberta and even throughout Canada to help minimize the risk of the fire in Waterton and in the Castle area.

Anne Stevick and Stephanie Jaffray bringing hay to horses sheltered at the Horseshoe Pavilion

The open handed approach to giving was appreciated by those who had to leave their homes in the zero hour, unsure of what they would come back to and when. Children were still going to school, businesses were open, and life was kept as routine as possible just one community over, with the understanding that for many their lives may never be the same again. Who's lives where to become impacted was as random as where a drop of water may land when it is to fall from the sky, or where a gust of wind may swirl off the mountain, across the prairies.

Division 1 work bee (Anne Stevick photos)
There were so many ways people helped, and so many people who did not want to be thanked.  Many just saw whatever they were doing as a way to contribute to help their neighbours, Whether that neighbourhood was created by geography, associations, shared interests or callings, or in spirit did not matter. Truckloads of feed has been brought in to help producers who have animals, and no food. Land has been offered for grazing when the owners are looking at starkly black expanses on their own land.

(Anne Stevick photo)
Human effort, cooler weather, and rain reduced the threats. People have returned home. For a few they have returned to an empty property, their home now a poignant memory. Those who were 'unaffected' still have to clear away inches of ash, replace fences, round up animals, and more...

Like the day to day chores in the business of agriculture and raising a family were not enough to keep up with.

It is a hard time for many right now. For many.

And for many, it will not get easier quickly. Some are facing the shock of losing one of the most precious items one can own, their home, while grateful no one was hurt. For agricultural producers, they are looking at still having to tend stock, get in crops, and a myriad of new chores. Facebook has messages calling for work bees, and giving details of fundraisers.

Dollars will be tallied. Adjusters will be in to measure the losses. The many kindnesses which have been given with an open heart cannot be measured in that scale, as they are priceless.

Many individuals have been inspiring. Others have been inspired. So many people learned who the best person they can be is through this time of devastation.

We have been busy at the Voice.  Work has piled up.  Now I can take a few moments and hold up a mirror to the people and reflect what light people have shared.  I am proud to be a part of a community who does more than 'look after their own', but looks over the fence to say 'Can I lend a hand?' I am even more proud to see that community reaches farther than the fences being repaired. If you have not heard it directly, or were too busy helping to hear it be said, or too shy to hear it directly whoever and wherever you are:

Thank you. Thank you for the efforts you took to help, aid, or reduce the suffering of our community which is still reeling from the impact of this devastation. We hope that you are never in a position where the favour has to be returned. However if it is, we know what to do. Assess. Take action. Help. Muster. Rebuild.  Listen and show care, kindness and compassion throughout.

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Anne Stevick photo

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