It’s hard to believe it’s been one year since the wildfires that devastated the City of Fort McMurray and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB). In recent days I have been reflecting on my role as a provincial Emergency Responder with the AEMA during that time.
One year ago, I witnessed Lieutenant Governor Lois Mitchell declare a Provincial State of Emergency (PSOE), the first that had been enacted since the 2013 Floods that impacted Southern Alberta. Having spent part of my career with the Alberta Emergency Management Agency (AEMA) helping individuals, families and small businesses recover from the floods, I was, and remain keenly aware of the ripple effects of a disaster in ALL areas of life
My role during the initial evacuation period and in the weeks following was in an Operations capacity, directing incoming resources and messaging to the appropriate divisions. I was privileged to work alongside steadfast emergency management professionals, and continue to marvel at the selfless heroism of the First Responders who ensured “the Beast” was contained as much as possible. Witnessing the coordination of agencies and governments in a common goal to save lives and property was a highlight of my career. I was extraordinarily humbled to receive a personal medallion from the Premier in recognition of my service to the citizens of the region.
Everyday Albertans, who “showed up” for one another during this time, with a jerry can of gas, a bag of clothes or a simple heartfelt hug is what this province is all about. Every time I see an Alberta Strong sticker in my travels throughout Ward 4, it brings a bittersweet smile to my face.
As we approach the first anniversary of the wildfires that devastated the RMWB, and the City of Fort McMurray, my thoughts continue to be with the individuals, families and small businesses of the region.
Though the fires have been extinguished, the random spark of pain and remembrance occurs. If you are struggling, please do not hesitate to reach out. You are not alone.