Many Americans have not heard of the massive mudslide that took place July 12, a week ago, in southeastern British Columbia.
Triggered by heavy rains, a piece of mountain broke from the alpine heights of the Purcell Wilderness. It slid down to the northeastern shore of Kootenay Lake, burying much of the remote hamlet of Johnson’s Landing and taking four lives in the process.
Three of the victims were from the same family — two young Florida women, ages 22 and 17, who were spending their summer on the lake with their divorced father. Their house was crushed and buried.
My good friend Randy Morse, an author, musician, artist and entrepreneur whom I’ve known since we tolerated the same high-school classes, lives on the opposite shore of Kootenay Lake, in the small town of Kaslo at the foot of the Selkirk Mountains.
“The devastation is unbelievable,” he told me earlier today. “Judging from the fault line above the current high point, it looks like more of the mountain could go at any moment.”
Randy is taking an active role in recovery efforts. “These are terrible times for many of our friends and neighbors who have lost loved ones, homes and livelihoods,” he said. “I’m currently putting a lot of energy into organizing the Concert for Johnson’s Landing, slated for next Tuesday, the 24th.”
Yesterday, Morse told me, he had a special passenger in his boat — a Florida woman traveling to Johnson’s Landing to see the final resting place of her two daughters and her ex-husband. As they traveled, he said, the pair chimed together in an unlikely duet of “Let’s Get Naked in the Kootenays.”
While the 1,000 citizens of Kaslo are doing what they can to assist their neighbors, Randy said, there are only so many dollars to go around. He’s not normally one to do so, but he is asking friends to contribute to a Canadian Red Cross relief fund at www.redcross.ca/severeweather.
“Anyone who emails you, telling you they’ve made a contribution, will receive an mp3 emailed directly to them as a thank you!” he said. “Just pass on the addresses and I’ll send ‘em off.”
I will be at Morse’s home on Kootenay Lake, north of Nelson, for several days beginning August 7. If you know me personally, I’ll be glad to deliver relief donations and bring home your mp3 recording.