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COMMENTARY · 14th October 2010
Merv Ritchie
THANKSGIVING WINDSTORM DEVASTATES ROSSWOOD WHILE EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE REMAINS ON STANDDOWN

Residents of Rosswood, BC have experienced some of the most severe destruction of property and forest lands ever witnessed in the region. As of the time of this published report, October 14 at 3pm, the power remains out for dozens of homes making this a full five day power outage.

Although many areas were hard hit, Rosswood suffered the most extreme devastation and the residents were left to fend for themselves. Calls went out immediately for help as the isolation and vulnerability of many made this a serious situation. Their calls were answered only by friends and neighbours. The Provincial Emergency Program did not declare this as a disaster area, which would allow for funds to be accessed assisting in a more rapid deployment of services. Almost all government funded emergency help was refused. Even the Salvation Army Emergency Services Truck was not deployed.

This specially designed unit was prepared after the floods of 2007. According to the Salvation Army’s Captain Dave Moulton (now Sgt Moulton) when he addressed the Regional District Kitimat Stikine in November of that year; the vehicle was to provide meals to any area of our region. Moulton stated this emergency services truck was to be ready to serve any and every community from Houston to Bella Coola and all points north and west. This past Thanksgiving was perhaps the greatest test of that commitment and the Truck remained, and still remains parked in the garage.

When the truck was being conceived and designed many local companies and organizations stepped forward and offered free assistance and services.
Freightliner offered to perform all the maintenance on the unit free of charge. Totem Ford agreed to provide free tires when the unit required them and other assistance. The Regional District even granted $20,000 towards the purchase of the unit. The entire community was behind the effort to have such a vehicle ready for deployment at a moments notice. It was to serve any area of our region. Even the Smithers Fire Department, according to Moulton, has it listed as an available service for disaster relief.

It cost $180,000; is equipped with a 25 kilowatt generator and powered by a 5.9 litre Cummins. The unit is designed to be a mobile kitchen for delivering nourishment to those in the greatest need during times of crisis.

The residents of Rosswood are still without power to prepare decent meals, though by now almost everyone has teamed up with friends and neighbours to take care of immediate needs.

Some residents in isolate locations are also still without power. The Nass Valley was restored after 4 full days, which had the President of the Nisga’a Nation complaining about the inadequate response. Many residents are facing a compromised traditional winter food supply having come to rely on freezers and electricity to preserve their foods. Some residents of Usk remain without power though it is estimated to be returned by this evening.

The good will efforts of the people of the region, to develop and provide a service specifically for what happened this past Thanksgiving, 10-10-10, have been stymied once again by government policies and bureaucracies’. If a disaster occurred again and was declared as such by the Provincial Emergency Program, all types of remedies could be called on. This truck was understood to be a stop gap measure. A unit which could be started and driven to the scene of troubles and needs at a moments notice. Volunteers are always available.

The crime is this unit has been employed only for trival matters. Not that Hockeyville and Christmas celebrations are trivial events but this was not the intention of this unit.

Sgt Moulton, who was in Smithers during the storm, stated they did get the truck ready to go with the Chef students from NWCC. They did this after they received a call from the local MLA Constituency office on Wednesday but discovered the Rosswood residents had all found alternative arrangements by then.
Thank u BC Hydro and others
Comment by D. Edwards on 16th October 2010
I also believe that the truck should have been deployed, whether it was to go to Rosswood or the Nass it should have been sent.
I agree with alot of what James Ippel had to say about everyone being affected. We were at my house with no power for 19 hrs no phone for days...meanwhile my next door neighbour and couple houses down from me had no power til wednesday...we never complained.
If anything BC Hydro, Telus, Twin River Electric, and everyone else who helped out in this windstorm should have a HUGE THANK YOU sent out to them.. they are appreciated.. They should not be critisized or complained about..They all worked thanksgiving to give us elecricity..Actually it was nice to be without power for a bit...it made us do things as a family got us off the computers and playing board games dinner by candlelight was great
Mr Weston
Comment by James Ippel on 15th October 2010
If you think for one minute that had this unit been under the jurisdiction of PEP or Search and Rescue, and done a better job, you are blowing smoke up the wrong tree.
For PEP, Search & Rescue, and First Responders to respond to a disaster of major proportions, they require an Task Number from the PEP coordinator. Just for the hell of it, try and contact this person on the weekend, or before 08:30 in the morning. I speak from personal experience.
This Task Number is required for insurance purposes, to cover the volunteers in case of accident of injury.
I sympathize with the people of Rosswood, but they we not the only ones affected by power outages. The Village of Kinkolith was still without power on Wednesday, people living only 9 km from downtown Terrace did not get their power back till Wednesday night. I spoke to one of these people this morning, and she said, "yes, it was difficult, but we got a generater to save our freezer. and there were others worse off than we were." Did she complain, NO, did she THINK of others, YES.
The President of the Nisga'a has no reason to complain about inadequate response. Do he feel that they are special and that Hydro should drop everything and respond to them only? Does he thing that people are the only ones who have a food supply in the freezer to carry them over the winter? If they are so concerned about their traditional winter food suppy, please do not rely on freezers and electricity to preserve their foods. Go back to the traditional ways of preservation.

I'll drive it up there
Comment by Eric on 14th October 2010
I'll drive the truck up to Rosswood if no one else wants to because of government policies and red tape. Who do I go see to get the keys?
Emergency Truck
Comment by Alan Weston on 14th October 2010
This truck should be turned over to an organization that is going to respond to desparate situations. Rosswood was a desparate situation. Turn it over to PEP or Search and Rescue or any other first responder organization. Hockeyville and Christmas celebrations are not desparate situations. They were more of a showcase for our nice shiney truck.