Typically, this is the time of year I pour through piles of notes and try to put together a lengthy blog post that equates to nothing more than a year in review-style article with a happy Christmas greeting tacked on for good measure. This year is different. I can’t do that. It doesn’t feel right.
To be honest with you, since the flood on November 14, 2021, where portions of Princeton were devastated and close to 300 homes were impacted, I have been struggling with finding the right words. Once I get to that place, I realize that for many right now, whatever I’m going to say is just going to be words.
That bothers me to no end.
I know many local residents personally who are currently displaced. Some are in local hotels, others in hotels out of town, some are lucky enough to have family near and far to stay with. Christmas for all of these people is going to be very, very different and probably not nearly as merry as it could be.
I know some of the impacted residents who are moving forward with restoration efforts. The costs are staggering and causing some to dip deeply into their savings and investments. Calling the Tulameen River Flood a life-changing experience is putting it lightly.
In comparison, all I need to do is keep a supply of bottled water in my house. I feel bad that this is the only inconvenience I’m dealing with. Even early in the aftermath of the flood when natural gas service had been cut off to the community, I stuck it out for a couple of nights then went to stay with friends in Kamloops for a week. Considering that I am a firm believer in relating to others because I have “been there, done that” this situation is so foreign to me. I quite literally didn’t even get my feet wet so how am I going to share with the community an upbeat, positive message of hope and happiness if I have only been a spectator to the devastation?
It bothers me to no end.
Sure, I have been quietly involved in some of the post-flood activities. I even got to MC the Light-Up event downtown earlier this month that did not involve a light-up because most of the Town’s decorations were swept down the Tulameen River on November 14. That put it into perspective for me. However, that night I saw something else. Something I've witnessed frequently since the flood.
Through thick and thin, and most recently a flood that has altered the lives of many in Princeton, and Area H, the spirit of our community was not diminished. Friends, neighbours, and strangers have all banded together to help rebuild shattered futures on many of our local streets. Others have sent help, supplies, food, and so much more just to let us know that they care and they want Princeton to keep growing and remain on the map. Volunteers of all walks of life have stepped up and gotten involved.
For many new to the area, that outpouring of love has taken them by surprise. For those of us who have lived here for years - myself included - we mentally go over a list of the last half dozen times we’ve seen this happen here in the past. We know it’s there. Sometimes it’s not quite so obvious, but when something kicks our community down, it rises. The spirit of Princeton takes over and engulfs us like a protective shield.
However, there are still locals who will be displaced this holiday season with nowhere to go and will be left to sort out what the next steps of their future will be. Some, I’m sure are going to choose to leave Princeton for good. Others will decide to tough it out. As I said, the events of November 14 were life-changing.
This bothers me to no end.
Through all of this, I do have a message. I’m staying home this holiday. Changes in my life the past year have rearranged how I usually celebrate and quite honestly, I’m not in a celebrating mood these days thinking about the kind of Christmas some of my friends and other residents are going to have. So, instead, I’m offering myself.
If you need someone to listen to you for a while, whether it's to vent, cry, or just chat…I’m available to you. You can call my cell anytime at 250-295-2201. If I don’t answer, it's only because I'm in the middle of something but I will get back to you right away. If you want to get together for a coffee, or join me on a walk along the KVR to chat, vent, or whatever, I’m available.
Although I can’t speak from experience to what you may be feeling this holiday season, I am a good listener. Feel free to bend my ear.
So this is Christmas. A very different Christmas.
Let’s make it one where we continue to reach out and help our friends and neighbours get through it as best they can.
My name is George Elliott. I have been in the Media Industry since 1978. I spent 23 years in Broadcasting and worked in a total of six different radio stations located in southern British Columbia Canada during my career. In 2000 I switched gears and moved into the Print Media Industry at a small town, local weekly community newspaper. In 2004 I bought the paper and operated it with my wife, Brenda until July 2016 when we closed it. I launched a freelance web content and article writing business from my home in January 2014.