As far as we know to date, no one is missing. However, there are many things about northern Alberta’s Slave Lake forest fire nightmare that are troubling.
- For a small fire, it seemingly engulfed the town very quickly, wind notwithstanding. Given that high winds aren’t all that unusual all across Alberta, was the incident commander completely unaware that this could occur?
- What was the role of the fire weather meteorologist? Were current, up-to-date forecasts of wind and weather being provided/available to the incident commander? If so, why weren’t they believed? Were the forecasts completely ignored, if they were in fact available?
- Was the town’s volunteer fire department given any notice of the impending fire control problems that were soon to threaten and engulf the town? If not, why not?
- Was the town’s volunteer fire department able to mobilize, given what appears to be a complete lack of communication from the fire’s incident commander?
- If there was a fire break around areas of the town, why wasn’t it freshly plowed or tilled to prevent the grass from burning up to the perimeter?
And that’s just the beginning. There’s more. Much more.
- Once everyone was in a relocation centre, why were television sets not allowed into the centres? It’s 2011. People need and want to know what’s going on in their communities, especially a community that has been devastated by a forest fire. Keeping people ignorant in the face of a disaster is definitely not good public relations. Why was the government trying to keep their citizens ignorant? Are they hiding something? Are they covering something up?
- It has now been a week after the fire, and only today people are being given bus tours—bus tours, for Gods sake!—to view the remains of their homes. The impunity of it astounds me.
- Digital photography is everywhere in 2011, even in Alberta. Everywhere! Why weren’t aerial photographs taken last week, printed and then stitched together? It would have let people wracked by disaster, despair and doubt have a view of their town that they were unable to see on censored television. That, to me is complete and utter disregard for the citizens the government is sworn to serve.
The media is not without blame. Once the fire and smoke cleared, they continued—and still do continue—to show images of dark clouds overpowering the town, or on the horizon. Well, folks, that’s old news. How about showing some of the smoking ruins that the government claims make the town too dangerous for its citizens to enter?
- Why does the media not show some images of those smoldering ruins causing all the problems?
- Why does the media meekly continue to broadcast the government line?
- Why is it taking so long to get power back to the town?
- If the water plant was not destroyed, why is there no water by now?
And on and on.
Does anyone have any answers as to why the government of Alberta has such a chickenshit, clueless and gutless attitude to the people it is sworn to serve?
And why is the media not asking any questions?