Sunday, November 4, 2007

Searchers in the Storm

Early this morning, just after 3:00 am, as most of eastern Canada was asleep in their warm, dry beds, volunteer search and rescue personnel from Tri-County Ground Search and Rescue were driving north through the gale force winds and pelting rain of Hurricane Noel to the small village of Sunny Corner near Newcastle to search for two lost hunters. The irony was not lost on them, as they donned rain gear and hunter orange vests in the warmth of their vehicles and prepared to head into the woods at the first hint of dawn.

The two hunters, who were from Ontario, were separated from their party and became disoriented in the unfamiliar landscape late Saturday afternoon. As their families in Ontario gathered together to await news, the two stayed in one place through the storm, leaning with their backs against a tree in an attempt to preserve body heat in the torrential rain. They couldn't have picked a worse night to be out in the elements.

During the search, the noise of the wind hampered whistle blasts and the threat of falling limbs and blow downs was a constant danger. In the heavy rain, brooks became rivers, and bogs became ponds. Joined by searchers from the Miramichi region, the TCGSAR group fanned out through the area on foot and on ATVs. At one point, one team heard a shotgun blast, called out and blew whistles, but the hunters were moving away from the search team and could not hear their rescuers in the wind.

The search group narrowed in on them around noon on Sunday. The pair were hungry, cold and soaked to the skin, but very glad to be in the company of perfect strangers.

I can't help but wonder what kind of thoughts went through their minds, all night long...

The team needs volunteers...if you'd like to leave your warm bed for the satisfying task of searching for lost souls in the night, contact TCGSAR. Their website has information on joining:

1 comment:

jodi said...

Nice piece, Deb. My father was in volunteer SAR for many, many years...before he got lost in the woods of Alzheimers, that is. I opted to go in a slightly different direction, putting water on fires as a volunteer firefighter, but again, the sense of helping community is so well worth it.
Where the heck would we be without volunteers?