Lac-Megantic slowly recovers from train disaster; will run again some day

Lac-Megantic residents hug after being allowed to return to their homes Thursday, July 11, 2013 near the scene …

When tragedy strikes, grieving follows. And sharp, public tragedy begets public grief. Nearly one week after the devastating train crash in Lac-Megantic, Que., the pain is still obvious.

Tears continue to flow, anger remains red hot. But among that are signs of revival, signs that a town suddenly decimated would recover. Some day.

On Friday, memorial services were planned to commemorate the 24 confirmed deaths and the 26 people still missing and presumed to have suffered similar fates.

Residents are expected to gather at a local high school for afternoon prayers and mediation. A candlelight vigil planned for Friday evening has been cancelled, with police fearing they wouldn't have the resources to monitor the event.

[ Related: Lac-Mégantic prepares vigil to mark 1 week since derailment ]

The town's grief is that vast. The community of 6,000 lost scores of its own last Saturday, when a runaway train filled with crude oil barreled into town, derailed and exploded. Cousins and uncles were killed in the blast; friends and grandmothers. Loving, caring grandmothers.

CBC News reports that the first victim to be publicly identified by the coroner was 93-year-old Elianne Parenteau, who lived alone is a small home next to the spot where a train burst into flames last weekend.

Others have been identified and presumed dead, but until autopsies are held nothing can be confirmed. This leaves the town hovering in a place of dreaded anticipation. But members of the Lac-Megantic family know better than others who they have lost.

[ More Brew: Ontario day care where child died had previous complaints ]

Good news is rare these days, but not altogether absent. It is seen when absent friends are found on the street, when families reunite. Five people named in a list of presumed missing, and therefore assumed dead, are now confirmed to be alive.

The Toronto Star reports they were mistakenly included on a list published in La Presse. Nicole Carrier told the newspaper she and her husband weren't caught in the blast as had been feared, but did lose power. She presumes a panicked friend could not reach them and rang alarm bells.

Others mistakenly included on the unofficial list, as police have not released their own, were simply out of town at the time of the crash, or had their photos published in error.

Those who spoke to the Star are taking the mistake in stride. Carrier said the toughest thing about the situation was assuring friends and family she was still with them.

Meantime, the rest of Lac-Megantic struggles along the route toward normalcy. It moves on as best possible with neighbours absent and buildings covered in ash. According to Reuters, all but 200 residents have returned to their homes, some living just yards from where a large fence has been erected around the crash site. Businesses are also slowly reopening a sign that someday, Lac-Megantic will be moving again.

It will not be today. But some day.

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