An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
IN ANY EMERGENCY, some people are going to fall through the cracks.
It’s happened with every major wildfire season, and it’s already happening during the current flooding disaster.
In the trauma of being evacuated from their homes, people need help and information. They’re disoriented and distraught. They rely on the system to get them through it.
We’ve been hearing this week from evacuees who complain about a perceived lack of help or about not getting fast enough action on financial support to pay for food and accommodation.
It’s along the lines of, “They really ought to do something.”
They can be forgiven for their impatience, born out of stress. But the issue even came up in the B.C. Legislature this week when Fraser-Nicola MLA Jackie Tegart berated the government for lack of preparation.
She told the story of a Merritt evacuee who spent three days trying to get reimbursement forms. What, she asked, was the government doing to help people who have fallen through the cracks?
Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth acknowledged that “there was an issue at the Kamloops Centre” and that the problem was in hand.
This is a good time to point out that the “system” is really just ordinary folks.
During crises, they’re the government staff who put in long days and seven-day weeks, the folks who rescue livestock and pets, the damage assessment teams figuring out what must be done, search and rescue, and the volunteers who fill sandbags and drive big machines and spend endless hours at emergency service centres.
A couple of days after Tegart spoke in the Ledge, her fellow MLA Todd Stone stood to pay tribute to their unselfish acts, noting that a meme making the rounds on social media declares, “B.C. strong, through hell and high water.”
So, yes, mistakes will be made but let’s not forget that the “system,” the “they,” is good people doing their level best to help out.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.