How many times have you heard someone say “I have lost all faith in humanity?” How many people yearn for the “good old days” of people helping people instead of the egocentric, self-serving examples of human action that we see far too often in today’s world? Sometimes it seems like we are alone in this life, with very few people who are willing to help in a time of need, willing to sacrifice their own time for the good of others. Sometimes it seems like there is very little “good news” to be found. And then there is this last week.
As the fires in BC rage on, tens of thousands of people have been forced from their homes, sometimes on very short notice and leaving with minimal supplies to head to neighboring communities, hoping to find a bed or a place to park. Being evacuated from your home, disrupting your family, your job, your life – not knowing when you can go back or if you will even have a home to go back to, has to be an incredibly stressful time. In times of tragedy, Mr Rogers once famously said to “Look for the helpers – you will always find people who are helping”. This past week one certainly does not have to look very hard to find them, and the people stepping up to help have left me to sit here in a state of disbelief – quite frankly I am in awe.
In the recent days we have seen people open up their homes and yards to displaced families, taking in strangers without any expectations of compensation; Taking them in simply because they needed somewhere to stay. We have seen campgrounds open their gates, waving fees and organizing food drives for people with RVs. We have seen hotels offer free or deeply discounted rooms for other evacuees. Restaurants, pubs and catering services have also come on board with offers to help those in need. Child minding businesses have offered free daycare for children who have had to leave their homes behind.
Pets and livestock from the affected areas have not been forgotten, with literal heroes driving into danger with trailers, hauling horses out to safety, setting up areas to keep them and dispersing literal tonnes of donated hay out to feed them. Shelters began to pop up for smaller pets as well, with dogs, cats, birds and other loved animals being fostered or looked after by volunteers, with food and supplies being donated by pet stores and other animal loving people.
As the most basic human requirements of food and shelter are being taken care of, even more people jumped in with offers to help make the evacuees stay a little more comfortable – Laundry services have been donated, Hair and beauty salons are offering free haircuts and styles to the evacuees, Gyms have offered the use of showers and equipment and delivery companies have been taking donated goods and foods to areas as needed – again for no charge.
We have Mobile mechanics and Mobile tire repair people out and about, fixing peoples vehicles so their cars and trucks are available to them, many times using parts and services donated from other (potentially competitive) businesses. We have people loading up their trucks with fuel and heading out on the highway, topping up anyone who has been caught between gas stations without enough in the tank to make it to their destination. We have people setting up road side stands, offering free snacks and drinks to weary travellers that have been on the road for many hours. We even have mobile septic companies travelling around to empty the tanks of people who are staying in their RVs in areas with no available sani-dump.
We have seen individuals from other Provinces load up trailers with food, clothing, water and fuel and drive for hours, or even days to get to the evacuations centers and distribute these goods. Some of these people travelled from areas such as Fort McMurray, who knows the horrors of a fire and evacuation all too well and perhaps still have not fully recovered from the events of last summer – yet they are finding the time and energy to head West and help others.
Radio and television crews, news teams and on air personalities have cancelled holidays and thrown the shift schedules out the window, working endlessly to bring us up to date and accurate information about the fires, the evacuations, the alerts and the highway closures.
And then there are the front line people – I honestly could write a book on these people who already work to protect us on a day to day basis and are now stretched to the breaking point, working tirelessly to save lives and save towns. The countless volunteers at the check in centers for the evacuees. The Firefighters, RCMP officers, Search and Rescue members, Armed Forces, Ham radio operators, Volunteer fire departments, Paramedics, First responders, traffic control – the list goes on and there really is not much left to be said but THANK YOU ALL.
I am sure I am overlooking other examples and if you feel left off of this list I am truly sorry, there are no intentional omissions in this little dissertation – I merely wish to point out how humbled I am by the groundswell of goodwill we are witnessing. You make me proud to be a part of this community, you make me proud to be a part of this Province and you make me proud to be a part of this Country.