To the editor:
As a resident of the Westbridge community and vice-president of the Westbridge Recreation Society I/we would like to extend our many thanks to everyone that have contributed and/or helped in the rebuilding of our community.
The list of participants and businesses is extensive and almost impossible to capture everyone’s involvement. First off, one must recognize the lead role that our Kootenay Boundary Area “E” regional director, Vicki Gee, has taken in organizing the many facets in which she has been involved in this recovery process.
The initial first responders were the fire departments from Midway, Greenwood, Beaverdell, Big White, Grand Forks and the Kootenay Boundary Regional Fire Rescue. During and after the main fire, BC Forestry worked endless hours in the fire suppression and containment. Their co-operation was phenomenal. Fortis and Telus were immediately on the scene and worked endless hours to restore our vital services.
Donations of all sorts of items from household items to clothing and food poured in from all parts of the Interior. Westbridge Hall and Thrift Shop had to acquire additional storage, donated by the Big Steel Box Co., to handle all the items which are still being received to this date. Communities such as Greenwood, Midway and Osoyoos have made major financial contributions.
Early in the program, we had charitable organizations and local businesses start the cleanup of all the burned debris and scrap materials left from the fire, followed immediately by the organization of the donations, delivery, cutting and distribution of three logging truck loads of logs used to replace all the winter firewood lost during the fire.
An ‘Unmet Needs Committee’ was established by Vicki Gee where a group of representatives from the communities, the Red Cross, the Lions Club, Habitat for Humanity and local resources was put together to document and prioritize those who had lost their homes and related buildings etc. and co-ordinate donations of cash equitably.
This committee also authorized a program where a large group of volunteers started to replace sheds and animal shelters. A major part of this program was assisted by the donation of building modules by the owners/management of Mount Baldy ski resort and insulation from Roxul Insulation, five buildings have been completed with two more in progress and possibly another five in the planning.
All ages of excellent volunteers, from as far as Lake Country, Grand Forks, Beaverdell, Carmi, Midway, Bridesville and Rock Creek, have participated in the construction of these buildings.
To facilitate this program, the generous uses of the Westbridge Community Hall facilities were made available. The Main River Women’s Institute and members of the Westbridge Recreation Society organized meals for the volunteers seating as many as 15 hard workers for lunch. Additionally, the committee has arranged for trauma counselling services donated by Vlodko Barchuk at the Westbridge Community Hall as requested.
All these activities still go on today and will in the New Year with the replacement of a home organized by the Habitat for Humanity and many other items such as trees from Hansinger Nurseries, assistance from the Red Cross, the Lions Club, etc.
All we can say is a great big thanks to everyone who has volunteered or contributed in many many ways to help the rebuild of the Westbridge and Rock Creek communities in the wake of this devastating event.
Westbridge Recreation Society,