KAMLOOPS — You know the old saying about the ducks appearing calm on the surface, but paddling like hell underneath? That’s pretty much the way things are going in British Columbia right now, except that we’re starting to show some cracks above the surface as well as below. The current wildfire situation has put everyone on edge.
Hopefully calmer heads will prevail, but it’s a very emotional time. Evacuees wondering if they’ve lost everything, emergency officials trying to react as best they can in the face of changing circumstances. There is so much planning at so many different levels that has to be done when these crises occur. TNRD officials working with various communities and wildfire groups to determine when communities are threatened, how serious the threats are, what are the best access roads in and out, when are those roads likely to be threatened, where do we set up emergency quarters. If those quarters are threatened, where next? How many people can a village hold, a small city, a larger city, and if those places get full, where next?
And if wildfires expand, what are the alternatives? Can’t fly any more out of Williams Lake? Where can we fly from? How many resources can we place at each of those fires? How do we keep roads open to distribute those resources? If we’re a resource company like Kinder Morgan or Fortis gas, how do we protect our transmission resources? If the Hydro grid is threatened, how do we reroute to make sure we can keep power flowing? If we are an airline, how do we reroute planes if some airports are shut down? If we are a gas company, how do we ensure our fuel trucks can keep gas stations supplied so there isn’t a shortage? If we’re Save On Foods, how do we ensure that food gets through to ensure people have food to eat? If we’re a parts supply company, how do we get critically-needed parts to wildfire areas to keep equipment operating and on the lines? These are all things that need to be handled in normal times, and balloon in priority in times of crisis.
This is a time when real leaders come to the fore and show their mettle. I can only imagine how much they go through. I have the responsibility in our station of looking after over half our staff. In normal times, balancing everything out is tough enough. Trying to put resources in place to try and keep people up to date and cover all of these events within our broadcast area becomes a much bigger task. And these people provincially have an exponentially bigger job that pushes them to their limit. They’ve done yeoman’s work, and of course it’s a long way from being over.
I do want to pay special attention to MLA Todd Stone. Today he gives up his portfolios as a new cabinet is sworn in. Stone’s job has been the toughest in government the past couple of weeks. While many Liberal MLAs have been spending time getting ready for the transition of power, Stone has been working pedal to the metal providing direction as the minister responsible for emergency operations in the province. He should be thanked for a job well done. I know he is doing this because that’s his job, and this is well beyond politics, as NDP leader John Horgan has mentioned, but this is not the normal type of job that a lame duck MLA would take on in his last days as a minister. Stone has been far from a lame duck, and deserves kudos from people of all political stripes.