An aerial view of the Hope Golf Club shows significant flooding at the nine hole course. (Rod MacDonnell/Facebook)

An aerial view of the Hope Golf Club shows significant flooding at the nine hole course. (Rod MacDonnell/Facebook)

OPINION: When tragedy hit Hope people stepped up

Much bad news but so many stories of people helping people

There are a laundry list of reasons why 2021 was a tough year for people in a lot of places in British Columbia, Hope included.

To paraphrase the old saying about the month of March, 2021 definitely came in like a lion but there wasn’t a lamb to be seen. It roared all year long.

And after the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 changed lives and took lives around the world, there was great hope for 2021 that things would get better. But not only did the pandemic not get better as promised and expected, but we were hit with so much more.

At least we learned a few new terms and words this year. Unfortunately we now know about heat domes and atmospheric river, and our grasp of the Greek alphabet grows by the month.

Those of us covering the news in 2021 tried to give as little ink as possible to cover anti-vaxxers who continued to spread misinformation and lies serving only to prolong the pandemic.

The District of Hope made regional and national news for a couple of unfortunate reasons in 2021 not least of which was when the owner of Rolly’s Restaurant decided to defy provincial health orders, wrongly claiming COVID-19 is not a health risk and that it’s illegal to ask for proof of vaccination.

The restaurant remains closed by order of the BC Supreme Court. And while this story has no happy ending, nothing positive to take from it, many of the tragedies and natural disasters this year brought out the best in people.

In late June, heat temperatures were broken in several cities in the province with the Fraser Canyon being hard hit. A cooling centre was set up by Hope and Area Transition Society to provide relief for the homeless or those without air conditioning at home.

Then Lytton hit a staggering 49.4 C before wildfires razed most of the community in less than half an hour on June 30.

READ MORE: Hope manages through historic heat wave

READ MORE: From smoke to devastation: 23 minutes in Lytton

Here we saw the charitable nature of so many as people stepped up with donations of food, clothing and money. People offered rooms in homes and spots in RVs through a BC Wildfire and Flood Support Facebook group that had previously been created during the 2017 wildfire season.

Numerous people on the group were offering help to provide shelter for people and animals in Merritt, Hope and all the way to Chilliwack and the Fraser Valley.

Fast forward to November when back-to-back-to-back atmospheric rivers dumped water from the skies leading to catastrophic flooding in Abbotsford, Merritt and Princeton.

But folks in Yarrow in Chilliwack and here in Hope were also hit hard by the water.

With landslides hitting roads and highways across the region, 1,300 travellers were stuck in Hope for up to four days.

This, too, ended up as a story of people helping people. Residents helping strangers, neighbours helping neighbours. People on their way to and from other places in the province, passing through Hope, ended up sheltering in churches, homes, even in the high school.

Here’s to better days ahead in 2022 for Hope.

There is indeed always hope, there has to be.

Paul Henderson is the editor of The Chilliwack Progress and the acting editor of The Hope Standard.

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