Seagulls take refuge on the flooded and frozen courts at the Cowichan Lawn Tennis Club as the sun rises on Feb. 2. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)

Sarah Simpson Column: Floods and fires and sleepless nights

Truth be told, I’m just a bit bummed out.

Hello again, it’s me, back for, if you can believe it, my 132nd column. I never really wanted to write a column but sometimes in life you have to do things you don’t like — specifically sometimes in your job you really need to do what your boss tells you so… hello! Here I am!

Writing this column has turned out to be one of the great pleasures of my work week. I get to share stories about the goodness that goes through our community and also I get to tell you about the trials and tribulations of parenthood through my eyes and through those of my children. I’ll be honest with you though, this week I’m not feelin’ it.

I don’t have any top-of-mind stories to share and I only have an hour to get this done before I have to leave the office on another assignment. On top of that, I hurt my hand at the gym yesterday so my typing isn’t as swift as it typically is. I’m limited to one full hand and just a couple of fingers on the other hand. (My co-worker Robert Barron would say that’s a full hand’s worth of fingers more than he uses when he types, but still.)

Truth be told, I’m just a bit bummed out.

My dedicated readers will know that we lost our co-worker Lexi Bainas to retirement in January and while she’s been gone three weeks now, we are still trying to shift the work-flow around. I’ve been picking up some beats I haven’t worked on regularly for years, and in some cases writing stories I have never really had to do before and I’ve struggled to write them.

SEE RELATED: Goodbye coworker, hello family!

If you noticed the news section of Wednesday’s edition of the Citizen, I wrote a lot of flood-related news. It was my husband’s birthday on Saturday and bless his heart, we spent it driving around, children in tow (you know what I mean, we didn’t literally tow them, they were in their car seats buckled securely and whatnot), collecting flood news and images for work.

It’s part of the job and news like that doesn’t happen often so we just put our heads down and got it done but after the fact you get to thinking about all the people really put out by the flood. It just makes me sad.

Then, last night I spent between the hours of 2:45 a.m. and 4 a.m. wide awake and listening to the chatter on the fire pager trying to figure out where North Cowichan’s South End and Maple Bay halls’ firefighters were battling a structure fire. Through that I also learned that the Duncan Volunteer Fire Department was called to Warmland House when the alarms there were activated.

I never did learn that night where that North Cowichan fire was or if there was an actual problem at Warmland House. I did lose sleep over it though and, again, my regular readers could guess that when I eventually gave up and crawled back into my bed there was not one but two extra humans snuggled up on my side of the bed. Before I tried to go back to sleep, I checked my phone, only to find the body of the third missing Sooke teen had been discovered. Awful news.

Not surprisingly, I was cranky when my alarm went off for work at 5:30 a.m. so I’m taking Mr. Rogers’s advice and shifting my attention to all the helpers instead: the firefighters that wake up in the middle of the night to protect life and property and the ones who wake up and bust it to the hall only to find somebody has burnt their midnight toast; the Cowichan Tribes helpers who rowed around the flooded reserve to evacuate those who needed it; the search parties scouring the region for Ethan Sampson; the staff at the CVRD who were called into action to help with the emergency operations and reception centres for as long as they were needed; and the search and rescue teams who searched tirelessly for those three young men and didn’t stop until they could at least give their parents some peace.

Thank you to our emergency responders, for all you do.

As I get older I’m learning that try as we might, we can’t always prevent all the bad stuff from happening. We can decide how we’re going to react to it though. Now that I’ve looked for the helpers, I want to strive to be a better helper, too.

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