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PECKFORD – Leadership in action.

A few weeks back I visited my property in the Codroy Valley while at the same time getting in a visit to Port aux Basques and the west coast generally. It was good to reconnect with family and friends in those places where I worked and lived. I especially wanted to see first hand those areas of Port aux Basques that were hard hit by Hurricane Fiona. I know Port aux Basques pretty well, so it was startling to see those areas that were literally wiped out by the devastation from that weather event. The manner in which those areas have been restored might be fine, but it is tragic for those who lost homes and property. Those areas are no-go zones as far as future housing is concerned. I understand financial settlements for the houses which were lost are proceeding with more to come. I wrote previously about my concerns for the process that would allow claims to be paid. As an old bureaucrat, I know the intricacies and complexity in getting all levels of government coordinated so that an affordable and accountable procedure can, within a reasonable time frame, be set up. From the accounts I heard, it appears that the system is working. Again, speaking as someone who has seen a few crises in my time, although not on a physical scale as is the case here, the task of blending programs at various levels of government does not come easy and the results desired takes a lot more time than the people affected hope for. The physical alteration of the landscape in the community is a constant reminder for people that much has changed forever. The character in many parts of Port aux Basques feels different and the transformation is likely not quite done yet. I would like to take the opportunity to highlight, for the record, that Port aux Basques has benefited from good leadership, which is so crucial in times such as this. Provincial and federal politicians and bureaucrats can insulate themselves somewhat from the direct interaction with the public, and are paid well to do it. Give them full marks for their work, but the Mayor and Councillors of a community are on the front lines 24/7. I don’t think I am going out on a limb in saying that throughout this ordeal, times for elected officials in the community have not been easy. Mayor Brian Button, from my vantage point, stepped up early and often, leaving little vacuum in the information flow that was necessary to keep the community informed. His was good leadership in action. The work of Councillors and the Mayor are not full time jobs. These people step up out of civic duty to help their community. In the instance here, which is a physical and human catastrophe, the rules of the game are not really part of the obligation they signed on for. It takes guts and skill to navigate the minefield created by Hurricane Fiona and from where I sit, they do it well. For anyone who sees it differently, then make your own judgement when you have walked a mile in their shoes. Finally, I want to pass along kudos to the folks at the Wreckhouse Weekly for the awards they recently received acknowledging the great work it does on behalf of the communities on the southwest coast.

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