How can one community endure so much?
But endure they do. Nazko Valley residents have seen more than their fair share of disaster in the past few years, with forest fires wiping out a large swathe of trees between Quesnel and the community in 2008, and then fires and evacuation orders again last year.
This year, it’s water.
You might expect to see residents limping into Quesnel, heads in hands. And if they were, they’d be more than entitled. It’s heartbreaking to see the land around you go up in flames or down in a great wave of water, not to mention the homes and buildings that have so far been affected.
But many in the community watched the waters of the Nazko River rising and thought not of leaving, but of the work to be done.
By the weekend, many properties and homes had been shored up with sandbags, and pumps were working overtime to get the water back where it belongs.
Of course, humans are no match for Mother Nature when she decides to take a certain path.
The Observer was invited up in a helicopter with CRD chiefs in the area on Monday, and given a bird’s-eye view of the new paths the Nazko and Blackwater Rivers have forged through forest and over roads. It’s quite a sight, to say the least. What once would have been a meandering path through the trees is now a fast-flowing, muddy track of water, enveloping everything in its wake. Log jams are aplenty, and the water continues to flow, finding its new route any direction it can.
And many believe this is only the beginning. After extremely high snowfall this winter, there’s plenty of snowpack left up in the mountains to melt and flow down through the rivers.
And still, Nazko residents stay the course.
Speaking to locals in the remote community who’ve decided to stay and protect their homes, there’s a sense of stubbornness, absolutely, but also strength and an ability to adapt.
Faced with a flood, they feel they have no choice but to remain.
For residents of the Reserve, this has been their home for generations. For those who live nearby, this is the land they’ve chosen for its beauty and its remoteness. What else can they do but stay?
We hope their tenacity pays off, that Mother Nature takes a different tack, and the flood waters settle down so people can begin to rebuild what’s been lost, whether it’s an entire building, a basement or fencing.
Resilience, these British Columbians have in spades.
What they’ll need in the coming months are things we as a community and as a province can offer: financial aid, emotional support and a helping hand.
Quesnel Cariboo Observer