This past week marked the one year anniversary of the raging Fort McMurray fire, a devastating tragedy Albertans will not soon forget. What started out as a two hectare fire soon grew to total 241,000 hectares. 88,000 thousand people were evacuated on short notice, fleeing Fort McMurray with just the bare necessities, to the safety of the rest of Alberta. Our communities and the wonderful people within our communities opened their arms and hearts to help the evacuees whether it be with shelter, clothing or food, an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on.
Drayton Valley was one of many relocation centers to jump into action and offer assistance to the Fort McMurray residents. The Mackenzie Center turned into an evacuation center, certain hotel and motels opened their doors for housing. Local businesses and organizations pulled together by offering food, supplies, and transportation for our evacuees. Other communities like Devon, offered space at the Lions Campground for many families living out of their holiday trailers. Residents throughout the constituency rallied together and set up collection centers accepting donations of clothing, household items, toys and even school supplies. Throughout our communities proceeds from garage sales, or children’s lemon-aid stands were being donated to help Fort McMurray residents get back on their feet.
Even though Alberta was in the midst of an economic downturn, the generosity and compassion of Albertans shone through. There is no doubt in my mind we as Albertans can fight and survive anything tossed at us. Thank you for being strong, thank you for showing the rest of our country what it truly means to be an Albertan.
Mark Smith is the Wildrose MLA for the Drayton Valley-Devon constituency, including much of the County of Wetaskiwin. He can be reached by phone 780-542-3355 toll free 1-800-542-7307, Drayton Valley – Devon constituency office Box 7272 Drayton Valley, AB, T7A 1S5, email firstname.lastname@example.org.