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‘Particularly dark’: Kamloops, B.C. pastor urges parishioners to help those in need

Kamloops is one of two cities hosting residents of the nearby City of Merritt
Pastor Steve Filyk poses for a photo at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Kamloops, B.C. on Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021. Filyk urged his followers Sunday to help those suffering from the flooding at a time the world appears particularly dark. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Bill Graveland

A pastor in Kamloops, B.C. urged his followers Sunday to fight against the darkness by doing good for those individuals in the province suffering as a result of widespread flooding.

Kamloops is one of two cities hosting residents of the nearby City of Merritt, which implemented an evacuation a week ago .

The B.C. government declared a state of emergency last week after the relentless rain forced rivers over their banks, including the Coldwater River in Merritt.

About 2,000 people were originally forced to leave because the flood moved in quickly, although the entire city was later evacuated when the water and sewer treatment plant went off-line.

Merritt was also placed on evacuation over the summer because of a wildfire.

There’s no timeframe for their return home. The town of Princeton has also seen widespread flood damage.

“The world right now seems particularly dark. I mean, we’ve got COVID right? and there’s no suggestion it will be over any time soon,” Pastor Steve Filyk of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church said during his service on Sunday.

“We seem to have found ourselves in what seems to be emerging as a seasonal pattern of drought and forest fires and then there’s been this flooding the past week which we are told is actually connected to those fires and droughts.”

Filyk said the future appears to be anything but a friendly place at this point.

“From my place it seems kind of scary, lonely, smoky and damp. How about you? Do you see any light in this kind of darkness? Do you see the light?”

Filyk said rather than being overwhelmed by the gloom people should make an effort to help others who have not been so lucky.

“Maybe instead of hoarding food it might mean sending someone else a meal. Instead of focusing our efforts on shoring up our own comfort and security, it could mean thinking about others who are somehow between life’s choices and bad luck, the most vulnerable among us,” he said.

“Instead of protecting ourselves at all costs we might just consider taking a few risks for others.”

A donation plate was set up to collect money for the residents of Merritt and Princeton.

Filyk told The Canadian Press after the service that you can’t just sit back and assume the government will take care of everything.

“I think it’s easy for us to step back and say let the government do it. I mean, every community has their emergency disaster response but they need support too,” Filyk said.

“We cannot just wait for government to carry the load. Let’s take initiative ourselves but be smart about it.”

Filyk said that needs to go beyond just providing comfort now. He said to look at the long term process which will be needed to make the homes safe again.

Tim Osborne made it in time for the service, arriving home Saturday after being in the Lower Mainland for the past week. He saw just how drastic the damage was.

“The landscape on both sides of the highway was pretty intense. You could definitely see where the mudslides had started and you could tell how much cleanup had already been done,” Osborne said.

“You can also see the size of the boulders that had fallen over the highway and, yes, it was intimidating to know that kind of power could come down at any moment.”

READ MORE: ‘We lost everything’: Many residents in Princeton, B.C. still digging out from flood

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

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