By Corinne Mercier, Canadian Red Cross 

Jerry PorterJerry proudly displays photos and news clippings from his many years as a hunting guide on the wall of his kitchen. A pot of coffee is brewing, and the stove is stoked with firewood, filling the air with the smell of smoke. After many snowfalls, calm has settled in the forest. It’s a very different scene than in August of 2018 when residents of Lower Post were forced to flee from their homes.

Lower Post is a community that lies just along the Yukon/British Columbia border. Jerry is among those who, despite living elsewhere from time to time, has been drawn back home. He’s a hunting guide and often finds himself in the wilderness. That’s exactly where he was when he had heard that Lower Post was evacuated. Jerry immediately thought of his daughter, who was still back home, helping evacuees.

Many in the community, including Jerry’s daughter, evacuated to Watson Lake where they waited for three tense weeks before they could return home. When they did return, they were relieved to discover that only a few houses had burned, although the landscape had changed dramatically.

“You can see your neighbours now,” says Jerry. “I just never, never thought I’d see fire like this.”

While the change in landscape has been difficult, emotionally, Jerry keeps it all in perspective. “We lost a couple of houses, but we didn’t lose any people,” he says. “Some tools and sheds were lost too, but everybody is here.”

Along with other residents of Lower Post, Jerry received Red Cross financial assistance to help with his recovery. When asked about the difference the help has made, he sounds both grateful and humbled. Jerry never imagined that he would be in a position to need the help of Red Cross.

“It’s the first time I really thought about it. They help other people all over the world,” says Jerry.
Jerry points out a Whiskey Jack that has settled on a perch outside his kitchen window. It’s a reminder that, even after a summer of upheaval, recovery is possible.

“I’m glad there were only a few houses burned,” says Jerry. Otherwise, “Where would we be? We’d be staying in...someplace...I don’t know where. We’re very lucky.”

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