Area H Director Bob Coyne was busy last week filling sandbags in Princeton with a group of volunteers. “This is community,” he said. Photo Andrea DeMeer

Area H Director Bob Coyne was busy last week filling sandbags in Princeton with a group of volunteers. “This is community,” he said. Photo Andrea DeMeer

Regional director urges calm, as tempers and tensions escalate in flood ravaged Princeton

Under stress, residents are beginning to look for someone to blame, says Bob Coyne

In a community that took pride in ‘coming together’ in crisis, cracks are beginning to show, according to Bob Coyne, Area H director for the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen.

In an interview with the Spotlight, Coyne said in recent few days there has been an increase in complaining, finger pointing and anger.

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He described it as a ‘normal response’ to trauma, and one he’s witnessed several times through flood and fire events.

“Everybody digs in right off the get go, and they do their upmost,” Coyne said.

“And afterwards when you are sitting at home, you cry and realize you’ve lost everything, or your neighbour has lost everything, you start to try to blame someone.”

Coyne admitted the Emergency Management System in the province is demonstrably “broken…All I can say is please be kind to one another.”

The director has particularly noted frontline municipal and regional employees are under constant attack.

“These people are working unbelievable hours and doing their best,”Coyne said.

“I’ve talked to some of the people answering the phones and they are in tears at the end of the day.

“They’ve had to seek out help to deal with the abuse they are getting and it’s horrible.”

Professional counselling is being made available to these workers.

Coyne also acknowledged that employees of AIM Roads, and volunteers working in emergency response, are facing the same kind of reactions.

“Please don’t be blaming anyone for the effects of the flood,” Coyne said.

He offered one more piece of advice for the rest of the province: “Please don’t ask people in the Similkameen how they are doing, because you really don’t want to hear the answer.”

Related: ‘It’s just unbelievable’: Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth tours Princeton flood

Related: Princeton struggles through flood clean up without heat and water

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:andrea.demeer@similkameenspotlight.com


 
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