I wrote my first post on McMurray on the eve of the extensive evacuation. An evacuation that saw 88,000 people from my hometown displaced.
I no longer live in Fort McMurray, but I can’t help but tear up whenever I think of the destruction and uncertainty my friends, family, and all McMurrayites are going through. During the first hours of the evacuation, I felt a heavy weight on my shoulders as I waited for my people to check in as safe (thank you Facebook). I felt useless that I couldn’t help my friends and family – that I couldn’t help my hometown community. I know I wasn’t alone. Many of my friends and family also felt the same way. We felt helpless as we sat glued to the television and our iPhones watching update after update. (We are still waiting for the update that the fire is out.)
There are no words to express the gratitude or the pride I feel for the hundreds of first responders, police and personnel currently battling the beast. Dozens of my friends stayed behind to protect our hometown, and to them and the rest of the crew, you are the true superheros. If you want to read a story from the front lines, please visit firefigther Lucas Welsh to read his word.
For so many ex-McMurrayites living in Edmonton, a fire in Fort McMurray was ominous, but nothing we haven’t seen before. But a fire this massive that left many of our friends and families displaced. We knew we have to act. So, in true McMurray fashion, my friends threw a small BBQ in support of displaced McMurrayites. What started out small quickly grew to 150 people. By Friday morning, my friends were on the phone securing donations of hamburgers, hot dogs, chips and drinks. Once again, these ladies showed what true compassion and consideration is all about. On Saturday, as I walked up the street towards the festivities, I was once again overcome with emotion.
We know the destruction the beast leaves behind will be extensive. But we also realize that we are lucky to have a community full of support. Fort McMurray was built on pride and strength. While I am extremely sad that my family trapline is probably gone and my children will never touch it, and my friends and family have lost their childhood homes, I can’t help but think – this beast will not defeat us.
Over the week, I have seen a number of different tag lines for my home town, from: We will be back; Fort McMurray Strong; We will not be burned; and There is strong, then there’s Fort Mac Strong. All these apply. Fort McMurray was built on pillars of strength and pride. Like the phoenix, McMurray will rise from the ashes, and re-build our community, bigger, better and stronger. While our land may be rich in oilsand deposits the true strength of the community comes from the 88,000 people that call is home.
This post was written to show the generosity and strength of Albertans. I was going to rely on the donations that are filling arenas, and the more than $60 million (and counting) donations to the Red Cross, but my husband wrote a post that is extremely poignant. So I’ll let him tell it.
It was in Ft. McMurray, 11 years ago with my roommates and friends after our apartment had a bad fire.
It’s no where near the catastrophe happening there now, but that is part of my point. It wasn’t a national scale emergency, it wasn’t headline news (although we did make the local radio for some reason) it was just some broke 20-something dudes who lost their crappy apartment. And yet that small scale didn’t matter to Ft Mac. We were put up in a suite hotel at no charge to us for a few months until a new place could be found. Our boss took us out for beer, dinner and gave us money for new clothes and supplies. Our friends helped us fish out what was salvageable no questions asked. That is just what you do for your fellow McMurrayite – they will be there for you when you need it, guaranteed.
No matter where you are from, if you lived in McMurray at all, this state of emergency has affected us. While we may not call it our current home, that city, that community has all given us so much.
From the money in our pockets, education, friends and the millions of memories, that city is our hometown.
At the end of the day, we stand with you McMurray, we have your back. Because we know you would do the same for us.
#YMMSTRONG #YMMfire #Wewillbeback #betterstrongerbigger