If we didn’t know we lived in a generous community, we know it now.
The fire at the Ocean Ridge condos and stores at Five Corners Sunday left more than 100 residents homeless. Some lost cherished pets, and most lost all but the few possessions they fled with in the early-morning hours. Fire and water damage wrecked well-established businesses, reducing people’s livelihoods, if not the actual premises, to rubble.
But even though modern society can often seem heartless and competitive, the outpouring of support from Semiahmoo Peninsula residents was instantaneous – almost overwhelming.
Even as the flames were still being fought, people wanted to know how and where they could help. They were offering blankets, accommodation, furniture. They were reaching into their pockets to donate.
But along with all the generosity has come a hint of frustration. Maybe it’s a symptom of an era in which we expect answers to be a mouse-click or an app-tap away, but people have been upset – even angered – that there was no instant conduit for their desire to help.
When the City of White Rock website, and later civic leaders, suggested the immediate needs of victims had been met and that donations were not being accepted by the city, the news was met with howls from some who saw it as indicative of a lack of leadership.
Some may have a jaundiced view of the current administration regardless – which may include questioning whether the fire has shown White Rock’s newly purchased water resources are inadequate to meet emergency needs. But those are issues separate from helping the victims.
Generous impulses are praiseworthy, but in the aftermath of any emergency, some assessment needs to be done. Aside from providing first aid, we don’t generally start operating on patients before there has been some kind of triage process.
And there are already established means and agencies for helping those in need that all residents should be aware of. There is always Sources Community Resource Centres, for example, which routinely steps up to help those in need. And there are other online fundraisers being set up across the city and beyond for this specific calamity.
There will likely be updates in the coming days to let us know the best ways we can assist.
The generosity of local residents is without question, and coupled with patience, great things can be accomplished.