Lac-Mégantic community begins to show resilience after disaster

Tease the day: the scarred town digests a massive tragedy

Franaois Laplante-Delagrave/AFP/Getty Images

Lac-Mégantic, variously described as a tiny, idyllic, tranquil, lakeside town in Quebec’s Eastern Townships, has lost at least five of its own to a derailed train, carrying crude oil, that plowed into the downtown, exploded into huge fireballs, and levelled dozens of buildings.

Lac-Mégantic is now the latest in a patchwork of hinterland communities that have made a country’s hearts weep. Days ago, the country looked on in disbelief at flooding that ruined the lives of many of the 12,920 residents of High River, Alta. Kashechewan, an aboriginal community in northern Ontario, also flooded earlier this year, forcing hundreds of residents to evacuate to the south. In 2011, a tornado struck Goderich, Ont., killing one and injuring 37 others. The day before, an airplane crashed in Resolute Bay, Nunavut, killing 12 people onboard.

Each time, we’re reminded of the resilience of the community surrounding the flood or tornado or crash. Today, the Toronto Star tells the story of eight Lac-Megantic residents who either witnessed the derailment and explosions, saw the train speeding by just before the fateful moment, had their houses destroyed, or were simply reflecting on such an unforeseen, and terrifying, and tragic moment in their town’s history.

Many questions remain about how the train got loose in Lac-Mégantic, how many died in the mayhem, and what it could mean for transporting crude oil on railways.  For now, disbelief slowly gives way to recovery.

What’s above the fold this morning?

The Globe and Mail leads with the destruction in Lac-Mégantic, Que., where a train carrying crude oil derailed, killing at least five, leaving 40 missing, and destroying 30 buildings. The National Post fronts mayhem at the popular Lac-Mégantic bar, Musi-Café, which stood at the epicentre of the explosion. The Toronto Star goes above the fold with speculation that someone shut down the locomotive that maintained the train’s air brakes, which sent it rolling down the tracks into Lac-Mégantic. The Ottawa Citizen leads with police claims that the death toll in Lac-Mégantic will likely rise. iPolitics fronts Library and Archives Canada’s apparent refusal to make public the raw data from the 1921 census. leads with Lac-Mégantic starting a new work week while many residents remain missing. CTV News leads with worries that Lac-Mégantic’s death toll could rise. National Newswatch showcases cabinet speculation that suggests Defence Minister Peter MacKay and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty could be shuffled out of their portfolios.

Stories that will be (mostly) missed

1. Rowing. Mylène Paquette set off from Halifax on a three-month journey across the Atlantic Ocean—destination: France—in a rowboat that will require 12-hour days and a million total strokes. 2. PBO. The government’s final candidates to relpace Kevin Page as parliamentary budget officer apparently underwent psychological testing, an obstacle Page never faced himself.
3. Auto exports. A leaked German memo suggests Canadian auto makers will have easier access to European markets, under a new trade deal—what some call only a political victory. 4. Border guards. Ottawa’s international airport has received dozens of complaints from disgruntled fliers who say border guards at customs booths are rude and outright hostile.
5. Currency. Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, formerly Canada’s top central banker, is halting an effort to remove Elizabeth Fry from new five-pound notes. 6. Syria. Shelling in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, apparently killed six prisoners in a central prison, as well as a number of Syrian rebels—just the latest violence in the city, which sits near Turkey.

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