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Monday morning, January 5 and my phone rings. It is our lodge manager Stephanie Schafer at Camp Hope, in Hope BC. “Its crazy up here”, she says, “it sounds like there is a war going on outside”. Well, that sounded rather unique. “Have someone take some pictures” I encouraged her. Stephanie said, “You better come up and see it for yourself”.

Ice Storm Volunteers

On Sunday, January the 4th, after a snow fall of about 15 centimetres, the falling snow turned to freezing rain, coating Hope and nearby areas with a thick layer of ice. It hit Camp Hope as well, very hard. According to a TV newscast, the Hope Mayor, said our area was the hardest hit.

In the wee hours of Jan. 5th, as the ice continued to accumulate, trees started falling apart, and continued to doing so through the next day. Tree tops, branches, half trees and whole trees all burdened by the weight of the incessant freezing rainfall, came crashing to the ground. It was loud, continuous and everywhere. It did sound like we were in a war zone, with bombs dropping everywhere. The crashing and banging was in surround sound, from all neighboring woods. It seemed so surreal.

There was no wind, no howling hurricane-typhoon weather. It was quiet, but it was loud.

The mess that the ice storm left behind at the camp was hard to imagine and truly, seeing was believing. Pictures didn’t quite describe it visually enough. To quote Cam Cooke, one of the first volunteers onsite to help, “ Wow, just wow, wow, wow”.

There was a blanket of broken wood, big and small, all over roof and the grounds. A significant portion of the power lines came down, with some poles snapped in two from the falling trees. The camp was without power for 10 days except for emergency generators in our lodge and in staff homes. We scrambled to save our frozen food in the commercial freezers.

The staff struggled to keep the our access roads open, with chainsaws, snow plow and back hoe. Besides restoring power to the camp (which will be the greatest expense), many of trees on the campus were hit hard, some with irreparable damage. The horse corral and zip line were also hit hard.

We thank God that no one was hurt and damage to our buildings were minimal. There were numerous buildings that had near misses by the falling trees. Eight roofs on smaller cabins and buildings were impaled by branches. One stained glass window shattered in our little chapel.

It was two very discouraging days, but as pictures were posted online and word got out, first one phone call offering help, then another and another, and when the sun came out on Wednesday the 7th, with the sky a brightest blue, amidst the destruction… there was still beauty. Our spirits were lifted and the task of cleaning up suddenly started to feel doable.

A Bobcat tractor was loaned to us and has become invaluable in the cleanup process, as are our 1 and 3 ton dump trucks. Volunteers continue to show up daily, and slowly but surely, section by section, the camp is being emerging from beneath this wooden blanket .