Tracy Hughes, Salmon Arm Observer editor

In a time of crisis

It has been a difficult time for many in the Shuswap over the past few days.

Our unusually wet spring has caused issues with landslides and flooding around the area from Sunnybrae to Silver Creek, Canoe to Mara.

While the Shuswap has experienced its share of landslides before, this year has been exceptionally difficult. Many of us have complained this year about the cool, wet weather and a longing for sunnier days.

It was not to be.

Instead our ground is saturated and is unable to support much of the infrastructure built upon it. Roads have given way, houses are flooded or waters are being held at bay with walls of sandbags. Transportation ground to a halt Friday night as both the Trans-Canada Highway and Highway 97A at Mara were shut down.

The saddest situation, of course, is the presumed loss of Roy Sharp, 76, whose home was enveloped by a huge mudslide which came roaring down the mountain at approximately midnight on May 6.

I wish to send my condolences to the Sharp’s family and friends who have been touched in such a tragic way.

To those who have suffered other losses to homes and property, my heart goes out to you.

As with previous tragedies in the Shuswap, a situation like this often brings out the very best in people. Of course, the first shout out needs to be for those people working the front lines. It is a difficult job to manage emergency situations, especially ones as fast-moving as the Salmon River is flowing. There are many tired eyes and sore feet among those acting to protect and preserve public safety and deal with the practicalities of an emergency.

Then there are the stories of neighbours helping neighbours. Homes were preserved and damage lessened by people rallying to help. Many of those who came to help were strangers to those in need. But they came and offered what they could and people like Alice Hucul and Adrienne Bootsma are deeply grateful.

Then there were other stories of kindness. Hundreds of truckers were stranded up and down the Trans-Canada and Highway 97B as slides put both major routes out of commission. But Salmon Arm residents didn’t stand by. A number of individuals and businesses took it upon themselves to take food, water and coffee to some of the stranded drivers. It was small act of hospitality, but as one trucker told us, “There was love in that coffee. It sure warmed your heart to know someone took the time to care.”

There are still concerns regarding the potential for more trouble due to high water in the area. Residents should be aware and taking some steps to protect their property.

But if an additional crisis occurs, I am confident of one thing – we can count on the spirit of the residents here to do what it takes to help.

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