Coming together

The torrential rains of this week demonstrate how vulnerable communities can become to the wrath of Mother Nature. With rain measurements falling anywhere from almost six to 10 inches (150-250 mm), the best planning by highway and bridge engineers to anticipate water flows from rivers and creeks in some cases fell short.
The downpours hopefully were a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. Beaver dams were washed out, culverts undermined, bridges damaged.
The destruction of road beds by water also has left Fort Frances isolated. Highway closures make travel impossible to Kenora, Dryden, Atikokan/Thunder Bay, and even Winnipeg via Warroad.
Despite the problems, simple solutions often have been used to overcome the problems. In Fort Frances, when culverts couldn’t handle the water, Public Works had a section of road dug up to prevent a large area from being flooded.
At Lake Despair Lodge, Nellie and Bill Godin are boating their guests from Fort Frances to Dale LaBelle’s camp on Northwest Bay and then transporting them on to Lake Despair.
Camps in Nestor Falls and Clearwater have chartered floatplanes to pickup and drop off customers in the Fort, as well as to fly in groceries.
Safeway, in an effort to restock its shelves, delivered groceries to Fort Frances via Bemidji, Mn. overnight. The Atikokan Progress chartered a floatplane to have its papers delivered from Fort Frances to Atikokan for a late Tuesday night delivery.
Work crews are working ’round the clock to return life to normal. Culverts will be reinstalled, wash-outs will be gravelled in, power will be restored. Residents finally will be able to get out or return to their homes in much of the district.
But destruction to homes and families caused by flooding will take longer to restore. Damages are just beginning to be determined and since flooding is not covered by insurance, home owners will be left on their own to pay the costs of damages.
In those communities that have declared disaster areas, the province may create a fund to help residential owners.
In the meantime, district residents can be counted on to again come together to help friends and neighbours clean up their homes and restore their lives to normalcy.
In some cases, though, it will require more than physical labour—and that’s when this district’s renowned generosity will be needed most.