Like Somebody Took a Chalkboard Eraser and Erased My Life
Maggie Lord was living her life in Lytton, British Columbia, on her family’s 100-acre property with her daughter, son, ex-partner, and grandchild when a catastrophic fire broke out in June 2021. Maggie and her family, like many others, were forced to evacuate their home and everything they owned in a matter of minutes. The fire destroyed everything, including their homemade systems, and left them scrambling to find a new place to live. Maggie shares her experience with The Tyee’s Bracing for Disasters series in her own words, detailing the impact of the climate disaster and the shock of losing everything.
Living with the Reality of the Fire
Maggie conveys her shock and disbelief at the sudden turn of events that turned her life upside down. She recalls the frantic phone call from her daughter, who was fleeing the fire, to come and stay with her in her new house. Maggie describes the experience as a ‘surprise of the day,’ for which she was not prepared. The fire did not give residents any time to gather their essentials and mementos. For Maggie, it was a surreal experience to watch her life burn down in front of her eyes. She describes it as somebody taking a chalkboard eraser and wiping everything clean. The fire had left everyone with almost nothing, making the adjustment to a new way of life all the more challenging.
The Trauma of Evacuation and Loss
Maggie’s story is not just about the loss of her home, but also the emotional trauma associated with it. She recalls the fear and uncertainty that engulfed her as the fire spread. The rush to leave and the fear of not finding a way out is something that she struggles to come to terms with. The experience is something that Maggie cannot forget, despite being safe and away from the fire’s path now. She reports still losing sleep over the disaster and the sense of loss. The fire robbed Maggie of a lifetime of memories, and the idea of rebuilding her life again seems daunting.
– The Lytton fire is considered one of the most devastating climate disasters to hit Canada in recent years, displacing thousands of people.
– The impact of the fire took an emotional toll on the residents, leading to widespread mental health concerns.
– Climate disasters are set to increase in frequency and intensity across the globe, with wildfires being one of the most significant contributors.
Maggie’s story is a reminder that climate disasters are not just about the immediate loss of life and property. The emotional trauma associated with such events can linger for months, if not years, after the event. We must prepare ourselves for the inevitability of such disasters by having an emergency plan in place and being aware of the risks in our area.
Maggie’s story is a powerful testimony to the impact of climate disasters on individuals and communities. Her courage in sharing her experience helps raise awareness of the challenges of recovering from such events. It is a reminder that we must be better prepared, more resilient and, most importantly, support each other in times of crisis.