About a year ago today, I was standing in the field outside Agassiz Agricultural Hall, thoroughly soaked.
My trusty gray jacket was waterlogged, and the merciless, frigid rain made its way into my sweatshirt and the skin beneath. I could barely make out blurry shapes in front of me through my glasses. I wiped the lens of my camera as carefully and thoroughly as I could manage and snapped a few shots before a fresh cascade of sideways rainwater almost blew me back, propelled by a military helicopter on its way to rescue more stranded motorists.
Agassiz-Harrison was situated between two serious mudslides that cut off a portion of Highway 7 from the rest of our intricate transportation network. Hundreds of families and their vehicles were stuck. As the rain finally cleared after two disastrous days in November 2021, the Royal Canadian Air Force rescued 311 people, 26 dogs and a cat from the stretch of the Lougheed in our area.
The support the community showed the stranded travelers was unsurprising and certainly moving to witness. Offers to go on supply runs, provide shelter to total strangers and various other ways to help the victims of the disaster poured out in person and on social media. Not even 24 hours after a call for food and water for those sheltered at the Ag Hall, they were at capacity. Volunteers worked around the clock to make sure everyone was safe and warm.
Even now, it fills me with a great deal of pride as I reflect on the full weight of the way the community stepped up to help, even in the midst of doing their own damage control and rebuilding. As if the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t bring enough strife and tribulation, Agassiz-Harrison and those who traveled through it faced a true trial by water. And everyone passed brilliantly.
We may occasionally squabble during the best of times, but when it really counts and lives and livelihoods are on the line, the community has proven it has the capacity to do an overwhelming amount of good.
The sobering reality that this may not be the last time we see a disaster of that magnitude is not lost on you and I. Our climate has changed and will continue to change; while there are predictions as to how it will go, there’s really no way to know for sure what’s ahead for us. For example, we expected a rainy season earlier this autumn, but in August and September, there was practically nothing. Come October, more rain fell in one week than in June, July and August combined. The weather has always been unpredictable to a degree, but the concern is growing.
However, there’s always hope. Individually, it’s difficult to take on the giants that loom over us. Together, though, we’ve seen what we can do. Everyone can take little steps to make our environment a little better as we adapt to and combat climate change. With the number of locals who are advocating for safe and active transportation, calling for sustainable development, preserving trees and promoting safe and sustainable habitats for our wildlife, there’s reason to have hope in the face of a global problem.
So whether you’re doing something as simple as recycling or maintaining a bird bath or feeder or taking on a larger project, know the little steps we take add up and can make a difference.