Thieves decimate students’ emergency supply depot

In early December, thieves broke into a shipping container behind the Quamichan Campus of Cowichan Secondary School.

With a recent earthquake fresh in the minds of Cowichan Valley residents, one local school is hoping the community will help replace thousands of dollars worth of emergency supplies that were stolen last month.

In early December, thieves broke into a shipping container behind the Quamichan Campus of Cowichan Secondary School.

They made off with almost all of the contents: everything from food and sleeping bags to hazmat gear, stretchers and first aid equipment.

The emergency kiosk was there to provide all the supplies, food, clothing, shelter and water that would have been used to keep students safe in a crisis.

“We’ve spent the last seven years acquiring enough stuff to make sure we can look after the kids for 72 hours,” Quamichan Campus principal James Doyle said.

Sadly, while the food disappeared completely and immediately, many of the other supplies could still be seen floating in Somenos Marsh not far from the school, but were no longer usable.

The container had been moved from Mount Prevost School about two years ago, when the school district eliminated middle schools. Not every school is as well-prepared as Quamichan was before the kiosk was ransacked.

“The PAC at Prevost was very forthright that we need to prepare in case of an emergency,” Doyle said.

This isn’t the first time the container has been broken into, but it is definitely the worst.

“It was broken into once at Prevost and they took a few things,” Doyle noted. “They cleaned us out this time.”

The North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP confirmed that they are investigating the break-in.

“The school was unaware of when this took place but suspects sometime in the month preceding, noticing the breach on Dec. 8,” Cpl. Krista Hobday said.

“Some items could be seen in three or four feet of water in Somenos Marsh. Police would welcome any information regarding this theft and destruction of property.”

Doyle noted that, even though the supplies were specifically intended for the school, they probably would have been used to help the community as well, and the thieves may have prevented the school from assisting them.

“It’s there to help kids in case of an emergency, and we would also be there to help them,” Doyle said.

The importance of having the emergency supplies on hand was made more apparent by the magnitude-4.8 earthquake felt throughout the region on Jan. 29.

The school is making a plea to the community to help restock the emergency kiosk. Andrew Poland of Poland Crane & Hauling has offered to move the container into the fenced-off bus compound behind the school district headquarters, and Doyle is hoping it will have enough supplies inside to cover not only the Quamichan campus, but also neighbouring Alexander Elementary and the offices.

To donate supplies or money to help restock the kiosk, call the Quamichan Campus at 250-746-6168 or email quamsecretary@sd79.bc.ca. Tax receipts can be issued for donations of more than $10.