These days, part of the battle with any crisis is rising above the brutal chatter on social media that stooped to an all-time low during the waterline break.
While residents rightfully have questions they want to be answered, the majority of Cochranites focused on the matter at hand and did their part, sometimes reluctantly, in helping the town find a way through the water crisis that resulted from a construction incident while twinning the town's wastewater syphon.
Fire Chief Shawn Polley's voice cracked a wee bit when he relayed a story about how one resident went out of her way to lift spirits in the emergency response centre that he oversaw.
"Just recently, we had a resident drop off some baked goods for us which was appreciated, and she made them with snow outside. It's just the heartfelt appreciation. It means a lot."
"We appreciate that many of you have been holding off doing a load of laundry or running your dishwasher and we really want to say thank you. You have actually made the difference by doing these things--the pictures, the posts, the efforts, the little things."
When a wastewater and treated water line were punctured on Oct. 21 at 6 p.m., the town instantly began its emergency response. Town crews worked side-by-side with the contractor, partners from other municipalities, and Alberta Environment to first stop the flow of wastewater into the Bow, and then address the ruptured water line.
The trick was to fix the problem without shutting down the entire municipal water system. They did so by successfully installing two crucial critical water valves to isolate the affected pipeline and ultimately control the leak.
In the end, water was only briefly disputed to a few homes in Riverview, and businesses along Westside Dr., certainly a nuisance, but mild compared to the worst-case scenario.
Town CAO Mike Derricott spoke with pride about how the town staff stepped up to the challenge.
"We have a group of proud public servants and I personally have not been prouder of a team of public servants in my career than I have been over the past four or five days as we've dealt with this difficult situation."
Forty-eight hours previous, when the state of emergency was enacted, there was a level of frustration experienced by not having a solution in place. The team worked through it, step-by-step.
"As we got closer and closer to actioning a solution, you started to feel better and better. In the early stages, it doesn't feel good to have a problem without an apparent solution and certainly, I feel better about that today. standing before you not only having a solution, but one that's effective, is a much better feeling, I hope not just for us here in the organization, but also for the community."
For Mayor Jeff Genung, it might mean a good night's sleep after six tense days.
"It feels a lot different around here. The energy in the building shifted as we were making progress. Late last night were were told that they were starting to make progress, but we couldn't say anything until it was official. Yeah. today's a great day in the progress of moving forward. Yes, I will sleep better tonight."
The day previously, he stepped back from the podium to speak about the attacks on his family's business, Cochrane Coffee Traders. Some people were questioning why it was still operating, even though many other coffee shops and restaurants in town had their doors open.
Like all other businesses, they were working within the restrictions implemented by the town, taking every measure to conserve, reduce, and limit the water used, including importing water from out of town to meet their operation's needs.
He admits it's been difficult to deal with the social media attacks on himself and his family that extended to some members of the Coffee Traders staff. Through it all, he attempts to rationalize the attacks, and keep a stiff upper lip through adversity.
"We're coming out of COVID having a heightened social discourse. People are elevated and the anxiety is high already. This on top of that has brought out some of the really negative side of some individuals. Not all, I want to be clear. I've been getting a lot of positive comments from not just friends, but random residents throughout the region, encouraging me and our staff to continue to do what we need to do here."
While the worst is behind the town, the cleanup and investigations will be a much longer progress.
Town administration is expected to take a few days to return to normal operations, and people are urged to be patient.
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