Monday, October 20, 2003

It has started raining again and we are under another heavy rainfall warning. The flooding is serious up in Pemberton and Squamish. Eight hundred people have been evacuated from their homes and two people have died. I used to work a lot up in Pemberton when I was involved in Treaty negotiations there in the late 1990s. I know the mayor and several leaders in the surrounding First Nations. Flooding is nothing new to these folks, living in a flat valley that often backs up with ice or just bursts its banks when it runs too high. Many of the houses and farms in the Pemberton Meadows are built on raised berms to keep them out of the historic flood plain so hopefully the damage will be minimized by the good precautions they have taken. The biggest concern for many will be the seed potato stock that is stored in root cellars. Pemberton is one of the few blight-free places in Canada, which means that seed potatoes grown there are highly valued. Even though nearby Whistler drives a fair chunk of the local economy, agriculture and logging still make up a lot of the enterprise in the Valley. And seed potatoes are the cream of that crop.

At this point the communities of Pemberton, Mount Curry, Birken, D'arcy and N'Quatqua as well as the In-SHUCK-ch Nation communities of Skatin, Samahquam and Port Douglas are cut off from the rest of the world by washed out bridges, so the bigger concern for all involved is getting food and essentialls in to the Valley. Government says a temporary bridge should be in place over the washed out Rutherford Creek in a couple of days. I know they can all hang on, being flood veterans and pretty self-sufficient up that way.

So I'm sending out best wishes to my old friends and colleagues, Allan McEwan, Phil Perkins, Hugh Naylor and mayor Elanor Warner as well as the folks down the Lillooet River Valley in the In-SHUCK-ch Nation communities and up in D'Arcy and N'Quatqua.

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