In an emergency, people step up. That was so evident in the Shuswap during this summer’s wildfire emergency. But it’s often not until the crisis has passed that you have time to thank those who helped in so many ways. The CSRD and the Shuswap Emergency Program have many people and organizations to thank. So for the next few weeks, we will feature some of these stories each Monday to help us all start our week on a positive note.
The fallout from the cancelled Roots and Blues Festival was like manna from heaven for firefighters on the Bush Creek East Wildfire.
Thousands of festival fans were disappointed when staff shut down the event on Saturday, August 19 after the Bush Creek East Wildfire jumped the highway at Squilax the previous day.
Morgen Matheson, CSRD Manager, Tourism & Film, heard from the Emergency Operations Centre that there were challenges with feeding the CSRD firefighters in the North Shuswap. She immediately thought of the amount of food for Roots & Blues and called their marketing and sponsorship coordinator Althea Mongerson.
“Part of the fallout from that was we had all these vendors on site who were prepared to feed thousands over the weekend,” Mongerson says.
So, when Matheson reached out with a “need-to-feed” request, Mongerson was quick to respond.
Also on board were Mongerson’s longtime friends, The Cahoots Kitchen owner Spencer Moores, and Cassie Walters and Raelyn Lachapelle, owners of The Nom Shuswap. Both businesses immediately agreed to move their food to firefighters on the frontline.
“I know they are generous and had trailers full of high-quality food,” Mongerson says, noting these businesses had been hired to provide meals to artists who were scheduled to perform at Roots and Blues.
Moores says he spoke to Mongerson at about 6 AM on Saturday while staff were in a meeting to discuss cancelling the festival.
“Let’s redirect the food,” was his immediate reaction when he was told food was needed to support CSRD structural firefighters.
Moores had 150 pounds of fresh fruit, as well as snack trays filled with cheese, meat, veggies and baked goods. In conjunction with Walters and Lachapelle, there were also 130 prepared meals available.
Moores attributes his generosity to being raised to give back to community. It is a notion Walters and Lachapelle live by as well.
The Nom owners prepare fresh food each day and on Friday, whatever food remains goes to Second Harvest.
Walters says she and Lachapelle were happy to provide food to the firefighters.
“We rarely say no to community,” says Walters. “We buy local and like feeding people healthy food.”
The much-appreciated food was taken to three incident command posts in the North Shuswap.
“They were surprised they could have such good food,” says CSRD Deputy Fire Chief Sean Coubrough of the firefighters’ reaction. “The food kept morale high and our firefighters well-fueled for the hard work they were doing.”
Photos: The Cahoots Kitchen owner Spencer Moores (Top) and Cassie Walters and Raelyn Lachapelle, (Below) owners of The Nom Shuswap redirected food from the cancelled Roots & Blues Festival to CSRD Firefighters in the North Shuswap. (CSRD photos)