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Corridor communities connect in disaster



We in Whistler are the lucky ones. It’s a familiar refrain.

We are blessed with a widely successful resort where businesses have flourished, homeowners have invested beyond their wildest dreams and kids have one of the best backyard playgrounds in the world.

It’s a place where you sometimes have to pinch yourself to believe that you live and work here. At least, that’s how I feel sometimes.

Lady luck shined on Whistler again this week, sparing the resort from the disaster that was unfolding on all sides around it.

But even though we weren’t sandbagging our homes, or rowing down our streets, or worrying about milk and diapers and bread, we were in the thick of this flood too.

Our little area of the world looked like something from somewhere deep in the southern states after one of those freaky hurricanes or tornadoes power through a community, leaving a wake of devastation and debris.

It looked like something from a Third World country with shoddy infrastructure, where the roads are just expected to melt away under the force of the natural elements.

It did not look like the majestic Sea to Sky country.

It has been hard to make sense of the whole thing.

One explanation for the heavy rains came from a member of the Squamish Nation who said an opening prayer at a ribbon cutting ceremony I was at last Friday.

He said when it rains like this Mother Nature is cleansing the earth. And when humans do things to hurt the earth, Mother Nature responds in kind letting us know who’s boss.

I think it’s a fitting explanation. How else can we explain the recent natural disasters?

It was the same three months ago when we were worried about, of all things, the lack of rain.

We lived in a heightened state of anticipation in Whistler, waiting for a spark to set our world on fire. We watched the news from the Interior as hundreds were evacuated from their homes and firefighters worked around the clock.

A careless act could set the corridor on fire, putting all of us at risk. Collectively, we prayed for the rain.

But the fires eventually stopped, people started rebuilding and life carried on.

More recently Hurricane Juan hit Halifax, where I lived for fours years during university, a place many old friends still call home.

Families lost power. Phone lines were down for days. Businesses ground to a standstill.

Centuries old trees were ripped up from their roots, devastating the Halifax landscape. Point Pleasant Park and the Public Gardens were decimated.