Driving back to Medicine Hat from a trip to Saskatchewan I heard on the radio on this east side of the Alberta Saskatchewan border, I heard about the train derailment near Irvine.
It was bad as Cypress County wanted to evacuate a 6-km radius around the community as they determined there was a possible major chemical leak which turned out to be 8L of styrene which is apparently a highly flammable liquid.
I was afraid for the people in the area and prayed nothing would go wrong as everybody would be safely evacuated.
I also figured this could cause some nasty tie ups on the highway and there were.
As I approached the border I thought I better hurry as it was a Friday of the long weekend. I had just turned the final looping left hand turn before the straightaway to the border and already at Walsh, the traffic was starting to back up.
I was fortunate as I got there shortly after the perimeter was set up.
An Alberta Sheriff and what appeared to be a County worker signalled a detour through the town which sent us onto Range Road 12. The gravel road sent huge clouds of dust blinding anyone who wasn’t in the very very front of the line. When the road dust settled, you couldn’t help but notice how dry it was in town. Passing through very dusty county grasslands by a heavy amount of traffic was initially very frustrating. As a driver you thought what a major inconvenience and you are cursing your bad luck.
No one wants to be delayed from getting where they need to go and no one wants to have an ultra dusty vehicle. No one wants to sit in a vehicle - air conditioning or not - in plus 35C weather, how can these people come to this decision to put up a roadblock. What a major inconvenience for us travellers.
However, when you saw the effort, the strain and the Cypress County workers were working on the front lines, the law enforcement agencies and the volunteers, there was or should’ve been a huge sense of guilt for thinking so selfishly. A water truck hurriedly got out there spraying the road.
The thoughts then turned to gratitude. These people (three checkpoints in total on the detour I was on) seemed patient at not only handling questions from passing drivers unaware of the situation but also for being out there. Can’t imagine after for most of them dealing with all of those grass fires, the stress of all of it, being in that dust, heat and angry drivers heading for some vacation destination what they were going through. Every type of fatigue imaginable.
They were mobilized quickly by some smart management. There was strain, tired faces, but most importantly, no panic.
Remember, Cypress County was already under a state of emergency because of the grass fires and the arid and dusty conditions. Anyone flying over will see a lot of charred grassland.
To those in Cypress County, thank you and hopefully this is it for your trouble.
By the way, to the not-so-smart drivers of the two, 1/2 ton trucks, in a pure dust storm cloud, you may want to consider turning your emergencies or at least your regular lights on.
You may know where you are and know where you are going, but no one else does.
This was the only bit of dullness at a time when everyone else was razor sharp.