Telephone Service Restored at Voyageur
And on the 49th day, there were phones at Voyageur. It is hard to believe how long it took to restore telephone service to the end of the Gunflint Trail. It’s difficult to imagine operating a business without a land line telephone for that many days. It’s incomprehensible to imagine the frustration of guests and potential guests who attempted to get a hold of us to check on their reservations or make a reservation. I don’t want to think about the number of people who just gave up trying to reach us and booked a vacation elsewhere.
We know we disappointed people during those long 49 days without telephone service; we disappointed ourselves as well. We tried our best to return phone calls and get back to people who left messages but due to the circumstances we sometimes failed. We tried to operate our business by having our calls forwarded to a cell phone. This worked ok for those people who were patient enough to listen to the phone ring several times before getting to the cell phone, then wait additional rings, only to get the answering machine. For the majority of the time we only had one cell phone to take and make all calls on.
It was impossible to take care of all of the calls we needed to take care of. There were permits to reserve, orders to place, guests to confirm, people wondering about the status of the fire and of course concerned neighbors, friends and families. There were not enough hours in the day to make or take all of the phone calls. We apologize to those of you we neglected or were short with on the telephone. That isn’t the way we like to do business or run our daily lives, but it was what we had to do to get by under the circumstances.
We had a number of other inconveniences to deal with during those 49 days and this caused some stress. Having to drive down the Trail to enter credit card charges and not being able to issue fishing licenses was a big deal. Marilyn and Don losing their storage shed, Theresa losing all of her personal items in the staff housing, wondering where to put the staff since all four of the staff cabins and contents were burned to the ground were other major issues. Filling out insurance claims, dealing with power outages, talking to the Red Cross, planning for future fires were all in addition to the day to day business operation at Voyageur.
As Assistant Fire Chief Mike spent many hours on the fire and continues to do so. He’s been responsible for getting all of the mutual aid fire departments paid for their service during the fire; completing shift tickets, meeting with fire and finance officials and trying to contact all of the departments for their information has not been easy without a telephone. He’s also met with FEMA for sprinkler systems, spoken at various meetings, attended the Fire Chief’s Meeting, talked to another person who is writing a paper about sprinkler systems and so on and so forth and it just doesn’t stop. Just for the days the fire was active Mike put in over 200 hours of volunteer time for the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department.
But that’s what it’s all about. Giving back to the community we live in while doing what we love for a living. Yes, dealing with the Ham Lake Fire was difficult and it continues to challenge us but we wouldn’t do it if we didn’t enjoy introducing new guests to the Gunflint Trail, seeing the familiar faces of past guests or living in such a wonderful place. It’s about the people, the people who are important to us, our friends, neighbors, guests, family and community, a community we are proud to be a part of. It’s in times like these when you realize what really matters in life and you all matter to us.
Thank you all for your support, thoughts and well wishes, we sincerely appreciate it. We apologize for not offering the kind of exceptional service we pride ourselves in and for the inconveniences some of you experienced during the Ham Lake Fire and the aftermath of it. We hope things will return to normal now that telephone service has been restored at Voyageur.