Last evening, Martha and Our Lady of Perpetual Crisis convened in our kitchen for a bout of tea drinking. I had promised OLPC that she would be provided with her favourite chai tea, however, Martha arrived first and announced firmly ” I hope you are not making chai, that yucky stuff that makes me gag!” So, for her, the kettle was put into service for some appropriate, bland herbal concoction and she sat with her own tea pot of the stuff. OLPC breezed in late, as is her habit. She sat with the pot of chai which she shared with Rumpole, who also prefers it to other sorts of tea.
OLPC launched into a description of the flood planning meeting at the hospital where she works as nurse. During this meeting, maps showing a worst case scenario flloding of the Fraser River showed how our Municipality might be isolated like an island from the municipality 20 kilometers to the west where her hospital is situated. In fact, our place was to be cut off from the nearest Eastern municipality where Martha works as a photography teacher. This also means that Rumpole would be prevented from going to his office in the town across the river from us which is accessible by 2 bridges or one ferry.
Martha’s younger brother is an RCMP officer in our town. He has kept up to date about emergency plans, quite detailed and elaborate, and Martha has been informing us as to how the anticipated flood might impact our lives. Even though where she, OLPC and Rumpole and I live are on high ground, we may lose electricity, water and sewer, and could be isolated for a number of days on an island surrounded by floodwaters.
OLPC poses a question to Martha. “What would you have to do if you were isolated at school, while at work, if the flood suddenly rose?” Martha thought about this awhile and discussed the possibility that she may have to stay in the school for a number of days with several hundred students, sleep in the gymnasium and eat cafeteria meals. As to whether or not she would have to work around the clock to occupy the students during such enforced isolation, she fervently hoped would not happen.
In response to this, OLPC told the tale of being sequestered in her elementary school with students and teachers during a three day snow storm which had caused a massive whiteout in her village back in Ontario one winter. She and the other kids thought this to be a total lark, a huge unexpected yet welcome adventure. They didn’t sleep for three nights, nor did the poor supervising teachers, who gave every indication of succumbing to nervous breakdowns near the end of this ordeal/adventure. Martha visibly shuddered and offered up for us to think about just how horrible it might be to be stuck in a large school with hundreds of hormonal teenagers, already chafing at the bit anticipating the end of the school year, the Prom, the unavoidable final exams. So far, she said, there were no concrete plans in place for her school being isolated by flood. Martha is a planner, examines every possibility, and trouble shoots in anticipation. She finds this lack of direction from the powers that be quite frustrating. “I just hope the river rises while I am still at home, not while at school” she states.
OLPC’s hospital is staffed by people from all over the Eastern Lower Mainland’ north shore. Any workers prevented from going to work their shift by rising flood, would additionally stress an already understaffed hospital and the patients requiring its services. “The problems that would ensue boggles my imagination,” says OLPC.
When asked how he would handle going to work, Rumpole proposes that he may move into Vancouver for the short term and stay with his friend “Man of Science”. From there he could easily go to his office daily.
Since I do not work outside the house, I could be den mother, and ensure OLPC’s three just grown children might get along well if their Mother was stuck at her hospital. It just also might be possible that these kids would reciprocate this looking after by checking on me and other neighbours from time to time.
All of us have laid in adequate provisions to last for a couple of weeks. No one need go hungry and thirsty. We can also provide help for our immediate neighbours.
Rumpole and I are reassured that Renaissance Man, Glasgow Girl and Mousey are fully provisioned for this potential emergency, we just hope that the worst case scenario does not happen because many people will be adversely affected and much turmoil and discomfort will ensue for large number of our neighbours.
Martha walks daily by the river and notes its gradually rising waters. In many places where she habitually walks with her dog, the river banks have been eroded and shore trees have toppled. She is anxious about the potential massive flood. So are the rest of us, and we hope the melt of the massive snow-pack up country occurs gradually enough to allow the river to carry excess water to the ocean without causing a disaster in our little corner of the world.
We are prepared as well as it is possible to be ready.