I left home Sunday morning to a safer place amidst the fires and heat of home, today is Wednesday 2 in the afternoon. The air is clear here the temperatures are much cooler than home although today and the rest of th3 week will be warm for even here. However, a nice breeze, cooler at night ability to sleep with the windows open. On Monday afternoon my body in response to what had been and is still to some degrees with the difference being the smoke and the heat, my body decided to start showing the impact of that stress on my system. Having dinner with my sister I suddenly couldn’t function, complete warning to me from all systems to just stop, so off to bed for almost 12 hours, yesterday was totally low key once again, another twelve hour sleep, a short visit with my sister, a short walk by the river, and then my body says rest, so resting it is. The perfect time to do a catch up with everyone. One doesn’t realize how much strain your system is under during times like this last 5 or 6 weeks. I’m going to share something some shared with us who has been through this it accurately talks to what happens to your body at these times.
A beautiful read about these fires, Krystal Clark wrote:
I was raised in Lee Creek, my babies were born in Kamloops, and most recently I got to spend months on the lake healing my body with some really incredible therapies after years of pain.
I can’t even express how much my heart is with you guys, who are facing alerts and evacuations and everything that comes with a natural disaster like this.
I hope this share helps even one person ❤️
As the fires burn back where we are from, my heart has been heavy for everyone who has been experiencing this terrifying feeling of when nature takes over, and we are left helpless in its wake.
As a mother who was a firewife during our own evacuation 2 years ago, as well as a Shuswap resident during the 2003 firestorm, I want you to know a few things that I learned from our experience and surviving the PTSD that came with it.
Pack for longer than you think you’ll be gone. I grossly underestimated the time we would spend out of our home. Pack the sentimentals, the documents, all of the old laptops and memory cards, the sweatpants (yes, in august. You’re gonna need some comfy clothes for the weeks to come), multiple pairs of shoes and whatever else. Craft supplies and toys for the kids are also a really good idea.
Say goodbye to your freezer and fridge items. Empty it first if you can. Take photos of each room and each appliance if possible. If you have the receipts handy, take them. Try to set yourself up for an easier time when processing possible claims.
Trim back the hedges and put the propane tanks away from the house. Put sprinklers on your roof and around the parameter of your home.
Get used to the smoke. Ours lasted until winter. It took a full year to get the fire completely out. This is a long haul.
There is absolutely nothing like going through an evacuation alert or an order. The days leading up to a possible order while on alert will drain you. It will keep you in a state of fight or flight while you wait for the news, adrenaline will come and go, it will feel surreal, and having emotions during this time is completely normal and okay. You will likely remember key moments for years to come. I clearly remember the moment I looked up at the sky while on the phone with a coworker, and knowing in my core that this would be the day we would go south. Fast forward a few short hours, and I can still vividly see my babies in the backseat of my truck, screaming for their dad who stayed behind to fight the fire, and that fire raging in the back window. I knew I was doing the right thing, but it was intense. It was a lot. And what you’re going through is a lot too. Be gentle with yourself for the next while. You are not overreacting, you are experiencing a natural disaster, and you are going because your life depends on it. It is okay to be overwhelmed.
When you get to your destination, allow yourself the time to recoup and rest. Your body has been through a ton of adrenaline and fear, and your nervous system needs to reset. Don’t fight it. There will be time to get out and get the errands done.
You will pack the weirdest things. Ski boots, one golf club, clothing that hasn’t fit your children since 2013, whatever it is. Or, like one of our friends, you may completely forget your underwear. Bond with other evacuees over these things. In a strange way it really helped a lot of us to have a good laugh.
Call your insurance company when you get settled in your temporary location. Chances are good you’ll have to at least replace appliances, power can fail and most likely will. Our town lost power for a full 3 days before it was restored, and there was a lot of waste. It’s good to contact them to check in on what you’re going to need to document.
Don’t isolate yourself from support. Check in on your family and friends, reach out when it’s too much. The communities that have taken in evacuees often have discounts, events and gathering places for those who are displaced. Lean into their generosity and create some good memories in the middle of it. The city of Grande Prairie was absolutely incredible to us, and I will never forget meeting up with some other first responder and evacuated families to paint mugs and ornaments at Clay and Cupcakes, which has since sadly closed. You are not alone in this, so please lean in on those of us who understand ❤️
I know this will feel impossible, but try to limit your social media exposure to the comments sections in the weeks to come. Trust me on this. I know Fort MacMurray residents can attest to this. The sheer volume of comments about karma for the oil sands, political agendas blown out of proportion and the random trolls who want to see the world burn was a lot to take when it’s your home they’re speaking about. Your adrenal glands will be constantly kicking out the cortisol and other stress hormones as it is, so try to intentionally limit your time on your screens, and try to keep it pertinent to information and bonding with others. Download the apps that give you up to date info on the fire from the experts. Stay informed but also removed as much as possible.
When there is structure loss… grieve.
When there is human loss… grieve.
When there is animal loss… grieve.
You don’t have to be strong all of the time through this.
The biggest thing I leave with you is this:
You. Will. Get. Through. This.
You got out.
You have your loved ones nearby (or so I hope).
The important stuff is with you.
You will get through this.
Our hearts are with you, we understand and you’re not alone.
bcfires #whitelake #fire #firefighters #Vernon #kamloops #kamloopsfire #shuswap
This was beautiful to receive, and it reaffirmed to me that the emotional, physical and mental fatigue I feel is real. The added strain my body endured during the unprecedented heat wave, being ill just prior, it’s been a tough year and I’m feeling the full impact.
so although it would be nice to say I’m on holidays, I am not I am on necessary reprieve to rest and be somewhere where my body can get out of that fight and flight mode. I am monitoring the situation at home, yesterday was very Smokey again, today it is windy, the fire is still out of control, I will reevaluate each day, that in itself is stressful. This is not likely to be over soon. I am appreciated of the private messages and emails. I am grateful to see family members and that they are appreciative of the fact that I am extremely stressed and tired.
im going to do what I can in and around my advocacy work over this next week, but will be mainly focused on breathing getting my lungs filled with good air, resting and trying to find ways to relax.
I’m ending with a few pictures from my last couple days. Be safe everyone
One reply on “Time for an update”
This is such a important post for this and all other fire season….. Thanks for this.
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