Cypress County and emergency personnel need to be prayed for and commended
Driving back to Medicine Hat from a trip to Saskatchewan I heard on the radio on the east side of the Alberta-Saskatchewan border, I heard about the train derailment near Irvine.
It was bad as Cypress County wanted to immediately evacuate a 6-km radius around the community as they determined there was a possible major chemical leak which turned out to be 8L of styrene, a highly flammable liquid.
I was afraid for the people in the area and prayed nothing would go wrong as everybody would be safely evacuated. I also correctly assumed this would cause some nasty tie-ups on the highway and there were. As I approached the border I thought I better hurry as it was a Friday of the long weekend. I had just turned the final looping left hand turn before the straightaway to the border and already at Walsh, the traffic was starting to back up.
I was fortunate as I got there shortly after the perimeter was set up.
An Alberta Sheriff and what appeared to be a County worker signalled a detour through the town which sent us onto Range Road 12. The gravel road sent huge clouds of dust blinding anyone who wasn’t in the very, very front of the line.
When the road dust settled, you couldn’t help but notice how dry it was, with the odd plume of smoke rising from the patches of charred ground.
Cypress County was already under a state of emergency because of the grass fires and the arid and dusty conditions. Anyone flying over will see a lot of brown and some patches of charred grassland.
Passing through very dusty county fields by a heavy amount of traffic was initially frustrating: “what a major inconvenience” and are cursing bad luck.
“How can these people come to this decision to put up a roadblock? Overkill on being cautious.” “What a major inconvenience for us travellers.” First world problems. First world lack of empathy. No one wants to be delayed from getting where they need to go and no one wants to have a vehicle covered in a layer of dust. No one wants to sit in a vehicle - air conditioning or not - in plus 35C weather.
However, when you saw the effort, the strain and the Cypress County workers were working on the front lines, the law enforcement agencies and the volunteers, there was or should’ve been a huge sense of guilt for thinking so selfishly. A water truck hurriedly got out there spraying the road.
The thoughts then turned to gratitude. These people (three checkpoints in total on the detour I was on) seemed patient at not only handling questions from passing drivers unaware of the situation, but also for just being out there doing their jobs. Can’t imagine what they were going through. Most of them dealing with all of those grass fires last week; the stress of a derailment of train with chemicals, being evacuated while being in that throat blocking dust, soul draining heat and unfairly dealing with angry drivers heading for some comfy vacation destinations. Every type of fatigue imaginable. They were mobilized quickly by some smart management. There was strain, tired faces, but most importantly, no panic.
Hopefully this is it for a while for workers, but those in the agriculture community, it’s not so simple.
It’s too late for moisture to be of much help. It was approaching a disaster. Now there is more pain for residents who now deal with burnt fences, rounding up of cattle; a lack of salvageable grassland for feed. It is an unfair and horrible situation, much like Summer 2019 for the whole Cypress County.