It finally happened. The bridge has succumbed. A bridge that has withstood the test of times. It is a sad day. What am I talking about? The bridge you see in the picture has been compromised. This particular bridge is a very short distance from our house. It has been around for numerous generations. It is unique in its design. It provides a spectacular picture of the Souris River. Very scenic. It brings back many memories. The bridge used to have three arches on each side. Massive concrete arches. Beautiful handiwork. It lost one section in the 1976 flood. A piece was added on to ensure its usefulness. Our kids called it the McDonalds bridge. (the golden arches). Many fun hours were spent at the bridge. Fishing. Swimming. Watching the idyllic flow of water, usually a lazy, serene flow. Each spring, as the Souris River ice broke up, we wondered, could it handle the pressure? It was surreal standing on the bridge and feeling it tremble and shake as large ice chunks smashed into the massive concrete pillars. But it withstood that pressure, year in and year out. However, this year things are different. The high water flows continue. On a regular basis debris would have to be cleaned out of the river as large trees would get hung up and create extra pressure. Banks would have to be reinforced as the water flow eroded the embankments. All for naught. The bridge has been closed. It is done. Rest in pieces.
Many people can relate to that bridge. They have been hit by the storm. Many have come face to face with the realization that life will never be the same. Gone are the hopes and dreams for tomorrow. In many cases people have lost what has taken generations to achieve. We are a unique culture. As farmers and others living in rural Manitoba, we have a deep connection to our land, our livestock, our way of life. The very roots of our beings are being attacked just like the bridge. The pressure is relentless. It never seems to end. There are feelings of helplessness, shock, anger. And somewhere in that storm people can lose their resilience.
Let me tell you of another group of people involved in this storm. I had the opportunity to talk to some `front line’ workers this week. Workers that have been designated to help victims through the process of recovery and rebuilding. In a heartbeat these folks have been thrust into a job that requires a strength beyond imagination. Each day they deal with people whose emotions are raw. People who have lost so much. People who are uncertain of tomorrow. Uncertain what they have left. Uncertain as to why this happened. These call center workers care. They want to help. But answers are difficult. Rules change. Mother nature has her own plans. It becomes frustrating when you need to provide help and you feel helpless yourself.
It becomes important to recognize the stress and be as proactive as possible. Try to gain a better understanding of your limits. And when you reach a breaking point, step back. Take a breather. Reduce the stress as best possible. Respond to your body`s needs. Proper nutrition, sleep and exercise are important. Take the time to relax your body and mind. And last but not least, reach out for support. Talking about it helps. Find someone you can confide in. If feelings of over whelming stress persist, seek the help of a professional. There is no shame in asking for help. Make it a good one.