Taking responsibility

The weekly editorial for the 100 Mile House Free Press

The Cariboo Regional District recently put out a release with what Cariboo residents should do to prepare to evacuate, including things such as registering for emergency notifications and gathering personal items.

One thing this list is missing is saving for an emergency fund.

Certainly, for those of us regularly unable to scrape by without the use of a food bank, other assistance or their own gardens, this may be out of reach. I haven’t always been able to keep a real emergency fund myself, such as while I was finishing up as a student.

For most of us, however, saving for emergencies should be part of our preparation. For any number of reasons, you may not be able to access emergency services right away. The Red Cross may have technical difficulties, Emergency Social Services (ESS) may have too few volunteers to be open seven days a week or due to road closures, you may be stuck in a location where you can’t access emergency services.

Many businesses have stepped up to help their employees, including providing short term loans to employees or even providing regular paycheques despite the business being closed due to evacuations. However, not all businesses will be in a position to provide this to employees and Employment Insurance can take some time to come into effect.

It must be noted that this train of thought assumes we are entitled to help, from the provincial and federal government to an army of other support services. For many people around the world, this is not the case. Certainly, we must have some personal responsibility in making sure we’re prepared for a situation like this? So before you start complaining about the province, federal government or someone else, who are already spending millions to try and keep our homes safe, maybe you should ask yourself what you’ve done to prepare for this situation. Some of those I’ve heard complain could do well with some self-reflection.

Now to be clear, most people I’ve spoken to have been incredibly grateful for the support that they’ve gotten.

Personally, I know all too well the importance of having an emergency fund. Before we were evacuated, our house in Ottawa sold for well under what we bought it for due to a drop in market prices and flooded the day before the closing date, resulting in further hold backs.

Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t access the emergency services, by all means, they’re there to help, but where possible you should do some preparation yourself as well.