Editorial – From wildfires to flooding

Richard Froese

When starting a conversation, the weather can often be a good start.

In the past couple of months, the weather has not only been the talk of the town, but also the top story on most TV and radio news broadcasts.

It’s simply been weather from one extreme to the next – from wildfires to floods – feast or famine.

People don’t have to look too far to see how the different seasons and weather conditions can control their lives.

After a long winter, people living in northern parts of Alberta eagerly await for the snow to melt and warmer, drier weather.

First, municipalities and property owners were wondering about spring runoff in April. Some were getting prepared for the worst case scenario.

Fortunately, no significant flooding was reported in local regions as a result of the winter runoff and snowmelt.

After low amounts of rainfall in the past several years and the ground dry in many regions, northern Alberta was not out of the woods yet.

In the first week of May, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus (COVID-19) worldwide pandemic and risk were over.

People likely cheered that it was over after just over three years and two months.

Hooray! Back to normal!

Many regions in northern Alberta went from one crisis to another.

Wildfires started across the north on May 4. Soon places like East Prairie Metis Settlement, Big Lakes County, and Northern Sunrise County were in the midst of wildfires. Many were having to evacuate their families and others were told to be prepared.

Smoke was filling the skies in many regions.

Over the next two weeks fires began to spread in areas surrounding High Prairie, and other places around Peace River and McLennan in the aptly named Smoky River region.

Through it all, people pulled together to help neighbours, families and friends in need.

It seems to be rare that two such crises can be so close together and effect so many people.

Valedictorians at High Prairie E.W. Pratt High School and Donnelly Georges P. Vanier School said their schooling the past four years was disrupted by not one crisis but two.

They learned and persevered through it.

Back to the weather! Welcome rain hit many wildfire areas around June 18.

However, the tap opened wider around June 18 and rain caused flooding in communities like Whitecourt, Edson and Hinton on June 19.

Many people lost their homes in wildfires – others lost possessions in both wildfires and flooding. In both situations, it causes people to think about what is most important in life. People are more important – more valuable – than possessions.

Happy Canada Day!

Celebrate with family and friends!

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