By Susan Eyre, Member of Creston Climate Action Society
Many of us are still shocked from witnessing the B.C. residents of Merrit, Lytton, Hope, the Fraser Valley communities being ravaged by this summer’s wildfires then overwhelmed again by November’s floods and landslides, incurring loss of human life, damage to homes and infrastructure, thousands of drowned farm animals, and destroyed fertile land and roads.
Today, thousands of these B.C. refugee families are still ‘making do’ in hotels. Others are freezing in these cold winter temperatures trying to salvage and repair their damaged houses and farms.
What have we learned from these recent catastrophic disasters?
We’ve learned that our living situation can alter quickly – road access cut off; no fuel available; electrical and natural gas heat disrupted; cell phone service unavailable; lack of food, water, medication and appropriate clothes to wear; no beds; loss of pets; the water supply broken; the sewage infrastructure overflowing.
Volunteers and service-suppliers work themselves to exhaustion but once the disaster has happened, the bad weather doesn’t always stop.
The Regional District of Central Kootenay emergency response team is organized; however, with widespread damage there is only so much they can do. Individually, we should all have an emergency grab-bag including medications, seven days worth of water and food at home, a full tank of gas in our vehicle, and a friend or family member nearby who can help us.
Creston area residents experienced the destructive power of climate-change locally in 2021 with dwindling water supply, the overwhelming heat, the wildfires and smoke. The economic and agricultural loss caused physical and mental health stress.
Our valley is similar to the Fraser Valley in that the Creston flats are also drained wetlands that were converted to farmland. Sumas Lake, later called Sumas Prairie, was drained for its fertile soil in the 1920s. The Kootenay River, Goat River, Arrow Creek and Duck Creek have all been altered and rerouted. Similar to the heavily logged Fraser River watershed, our local mountain forests’ slopes are also heavily logged.
This stressful reality is why we must focus on mitigating climate-change now. The commitment to the West Kootenay 100% Renewable Energy Plan (KREP) by the Town of Creston to transition to renewable energy across all sectors community-wide by the year 2050 indicates our willingness and desire to meet the challenge and secure safety for our community.
With the KREP as our framework, our success in mitigating climate-change will depend on a diverse representation of community members contributing their practical experience and wisdom combined with scientifically-based information. From loggers and hunters reporting slide warnings in the mountains to seniors writing letters lobbying the Canadian Pension Plan, and the provincial and federal governments putting a stop to subsidizing fossil-fuel projects, all such climate-mitigation actions will help stabilize our disrupted weather patterns. We all have a role to play. Let’s step up to the plate!