Cy­press County and emer­gency per­son­nel need to be prayed for and com­mended

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - NEWS - By Ryan Dahlman, Opin­ion

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.

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