A short “report” upon returning from another MDS (Mennonite Disaster Service) volunteer stint, this time near Lone Butte (100 Mile House) in the Caribou country of British Columbia, Canada.
This was MDS’ first “contract” in the area. The reason we were so late starting was due to the roads having been closed because of the fires and it took a while to get the “all clear.”
Thanks to precautions by the owner, such as spreading fire retardant around the buildings and having a sprinkler system going fed by the solar panel array as the power grid was down, some of the buildings and animals survived the fires. The dogs and horses did not survive. Though many buildings throughout the fire area were saved that way, the ranchers lost over 30,000 heads of cattle, many of whom had to be put down having their hoofs and legs burned from running through the wildfires trying to escape.
Wildlife, especially the smaller rodent populations that provide food for the larger carnivores, was decimated. Hungry cougars and other large predators are now roaming ever closer to remaining winter feed lots and even homes. Children have to be driven inside vehicles to school bus pick-up points though you can see some daring lonely souls, who probably do not have the luxury of a parent at home able to drive them, walking along the roads. One does not have to wonder long what would happen if they were attacked.
The goal of our 5-man crew was to get as much of the replacement house covered, laying up of trusses, sheathing and if possible, installation of the metal roofing. We got as far as the tar paper and strapping, which will ensure the building stays relatively free of snow and rain on the inside, barring whatever blows in through doors and windows as yet not installed. With the onset of winter up there, about 300 miles north of the border, or from Chilliwack which is where I live (practically on the 49th parallel) we probably will not be returning until after spring breakup. By then there should be several more projects identified and contracted for by our project managers.
Following are some pictures I took the time to snap as the work progressed. Couldn’t waste much time off the job as the days are short up there – it reminded me of the Peace River country in northern Alberta where I was raised, if a bit warmer and wetter and the mud not quite as sticky as our great plains gumbo. If the pictures appear fuzzy, it’s because they are greatly reduced from their original format.
Images and captions: This is the house we worked on. It may seem large but it has to accommodate a large family.
Solar panels and power house. Behind is the log cabin the family is now using as temporary abode.
…angle consultation. The man in the black cap is the owner.
This is part of the area the family calls “Elizabeth’s Pond”
A bit more of “the pond” and the “floating fence” which sits on several feet of soft peat and is often under water.
Close up of “floating fence” and edge of pond. I was told that if someone ventured here they’d sink over their head in peat and mud.
Children’s play area (one of several!)
Burned area near the homestead/ranch, and a small lake.
More of burned area – close up.
… and more…
My faithful companion van and mobile tool box, properly “decorated” with high country mud. Individual patiently looking out and waiting for me to take my pictures along the forest road is my friend, Vic Janzen, one of MDS’ project managers and project leaders. We rode up together on this particular project.
A month ago, this is what our sun looked like at high noon here, 300 miles south of the raging wild fires.
I must say that, as much as I enjoy giving away time and resources to help others it never ceases to amaze me that as a nation people willingly let their pathocratic leaders blow off tax dollars on destroying people and the planet and fail to find it offensive that there is “no money” to help the very people who pay the taxes used to build the military hardware; the military machine and to pay the inflated “salaries” of rich, elitist rulers. How can a supposed intelligent species be this dumb? This uncaring? This unfeeling? This crass? This ignorant? This stupid? How many of “us” is there for every one of “them”? Yet we claim to be democratic societies. Is this what we really want? If not then why is it that those who propose change are always spurned, scorned, distrusted or even “elimitated” so the sharks can continue to have free range over the planet? Surpasses my understanding.
As a final note, I saw the full glory of the Milky Way for the first time since leaving the Peace River country in 1964! Prevailing winds must have “miraculously” blown the smoke away from the area where we bunked. We seldom realize how much city environments create horribly polluted conditions until we find ourselves far enough up in the mountains, or far enough north that city smogs can’t reach there… yet.