Image: LaPresse

I am back from my trip to Lac-Mégantic

I would like to begin by expressing my sincere regret for the victims of this event: their friends and families, all the residents of Lac-Mégantic, and for all those affected by this tragedy.

I went to Lac-Megantic to find out about the situation in the city.

When we arrived 11 kilometres from the site, we saw the end of the train, which was made up of five (5) very large tank cars. Continuing towards the city we descended a hill several kilometers long. The village of Lac-Megantic was at the bottom of this long slope, where the rails used to take the bend.

When we arrived on the scene, we saw, in the distance, the oil cars in the middle of the street. The fire was out, but the firefighters continued to cool the cars with water jets. The police kept journalists, residents and visitors extremely far from the site. It had a slight smell of oil on the wind. The city’s water was not drinkable and everyone was drinking bottled water.

The residents talked among themselves about those who had died and those who had been found. The situation was obviously very serious with several deaths already occurring, and with the certainty that more deaths would be reported during the day, the atmosphere was tense. Despite the seriousness of the situation, there was no one crying.

As I was at Dawson College in 2006 when we experienced the shooting, I had an idea of how it felt to be in such a tragedy. I immediately felt the same thing: the feeling that comes to us when we wait to know the identity, and the total number of victims; a feeling of shock at the same time as a feeling of helplessness despite the fact that we are still in emergency mode and that we do not have time for tears. During my day at Lac-Mégantic, I didn’t see a single person crying.

I walked around the security setting, and visited the high school where the temporary shelter is located.

As I approached the shelter, I saw that the media were all set up right in front of the front door for the shelter. They were doing everything they could to find out more about the situation. Inside, the red cross registered residents and administered most services. The evacuees slept in beds in the school gymnasium. No one knew when they would be allowed to return home. More than 40 buildings were destroyed and the number of victims was still unknown.

Many families have lost their footing, and some of them have lost their loved ones. All have lost members of their communities.

The series of events that caused this tragedy will be discovered soon, and I hope our governments will do everything they can to ensure that this never happens again.

For those who want to visit Lac-Mégantic, the population needs you. It will be very important to prove to them that Quebec is there to support them.

In solidarity with Lac-Mégantic,

Alex Tyrrell


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