Survival set for celebration at Blowdown Brunch

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Salt Spring is gearing up for a massive celebration and thank-you event following the Dec. 20 wind storm and aftermath.

Dan Olson and Kathryn Anderson came up with the idea for the Salt Spring Blowdown Brunch, which will be held at the Farmers’ Institute on Tuesday, Jan. 1 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Brunch food and hot and cold beverages will be provided, but people are also encouraged to bring some food to share.

Live music will be provided by the K-Tones, and there will be ample opportunity to thank first responders, emergency program staff and volunteers, hydro workers, tree-cutters, flaggers, neighbours, friends and businesses for everything done during and after the devastating storm.

People are invited to bring a branch or other foliage from their experience to contribute to a huge wreath.

Olson is the administrator of the Salt Spring Island Road Report Facebook discussion page and found himself in the middle of communication efforts with a huge number of posts and activity on the page during and after the chaotic storm event.

“When this whole event was going on, that Facebook page lit up like a Christmas tree. It was crazy . . . Every two minutes I was getting 10, 20 people wanting to join the Road Report, and then I was getting pictures of the devastation as it was happening . . .”

Many roads became impassable as trees and power lines and poles fell on the afternoon of Dec. 20, and it took hours for some people to get home safely. In some cases that was only possible due to individuals with chain saws cutting trees and clearing an opening in the road. An emergency reception centre was set up at the Legion for those who could not get home.

Going through the storm and recovery and hearing stories of how people got through it with the help of other islanders inspired them to spearhead the Jan. 1 event, along with other volunteers.

“Every restaurant and bakery in town is doing extra runs for us and contributing their day-old stuff,” said Olson. “And they are reaching out to us.”

They have also been thrilled by local business owners’ generosity in donating items for the silent auction, from a chainsaw to a complete survival kit to paintings worth $1,500. More than 25 items had been secured as of noon on Monday.

Auction proceeds will be given to emergency services to disburse to those in need, such as Edwina Badan, whose home burned down on Dec. 23, and the Salt Spring Therapeutic Riding Association, whose new facilities on Upper Ganges Road sustained heavy damage.

The Blowdown Brunch story has already received national and B.C.-wide media coverage and Olson and Anderson have been inundated with requests for interviews

“Everybody is so happy to have a feel-good story and this is definitely it,” said Anderson.

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