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General News · 25th October 2011
Michael Horgan & Darlene Smith
Some of the things that make island living so attractive - tranquility, privacy, isolation, an actual rain forest, outdoor recreation - could also be part of a different list: those things that contribute to our vulnerability. We are fortunate that another characteristic manifest in Cortes residents is the primary defense against those realities: community.

It's hard to ignore forest fire danger here. The signs are myriad. There's one 100 meters from my home. When the planet under us shook last month it was not the first time. Who among us has not lost our electricity or our telephone or our internet? Or all three concurrently? Look out your window. How close are the power lines wending their way your home to old-growth forest?

It's not my intention to increase the frequency of stress-related facial ticks among people of the archipelago. Fear is pointless and counterproductive. What happens happens. Preparation - both personal and communal - is the point. Most of us have containers filled with ice to protect our food during an extended power outage. Many of us have "grab-and-go kits." Everybody has strategically-placed flashlights around their homes. Generators, chain saws, all-wheel drive vehicles abound, too. Good. Great. But, imagine a situation in which all those tools are not enough. What - or who - then?

Cortes and Quadra have a dedicated group of folks, Emergency Social Services personnel, who are trained or are being trained to work to meet the personal and interpersonal concerns of our people when the next need for their expertise occurs. They will work in support of the first responders, the fire brigade, BC Hydro, medical professionals among others to return some order when order has escaped us. From designated reception centers around the islands ESS will offer comfort, timely referrals, information or perhaps just a place to take a load off your feet and to sip a cup of tea.

Cortes in particular, with three separate population centers separated by wilderness, provides challenges best met with a diverse and dispersed group of ESS personnel. Having as many trained ESSers in all three of those locales ensures that the entire island gets the social services we need as part of larger system of Cortesians helping Cortesians.

As of Saturday last, Lili and I are proud to number ourselves among those working at this level of community preparedness. We encourage you to consider joining us. Interested? Contact Chris Dragseth at or leave a comment right here on this post.