#YMM Fire: A Week Later

By Kiran Malik-Khan, Connect Contributor
Photo taken by Kiran Malik-Khan on May 2 in the Timberlea area days before the entire city of Fort McMurray was evacuated.

Photo taken by Kiran Malik-Khan on May 2 in the Timberlea area days before the entire city of Fort McMurray was evacuated.

I don’t know how to look at trees anymore. I see them ablaze. I see them charred. I look away. At about 2:35 a.m., it’ll be a week ago today, I was one of the estimated 18,000 who arrived in Edmonton because of “the beast” of a wildfire that engulfed my town. We left Fort McMurray in a mass exodus. I had 10 minutes to pack a bag, my husband and and I, along with our two beautiful boys fled south, not knowing when we’ll return. Deep down, like many others, I thought it would be a few days. I’m resigned to a few weeks now. I don’t want to think few months.

I’m still waiting for someone to wake me up from this nightmare. It’s not happening. I’ve held friends who broke down in my arms because they lost their homes. Yes, insurance covers houses, it doesn’t cover homes with memories. It’s not about the material things, it’s about the irreplaceable emotions connected with our havens – our homes.  Someone posted about feeling guilty on still having a house to return to, I understood that yesterday when I found out my house is still standing too. Nevertheless, I’m grateful to God beyond words.

Fort McMurray has been my home for over 15 years. I wouldn’t trade it for any other city in the world. Our community is beautiful, and I know you’ve seen that through the many daily updates being relayed. As a freelance journalist, I’ve had the honour of sharing hundreds of Fort McMurray’s  stories. Now, our story is of strength, perseverance, and resilience. Our story is of gratitude to our fellow Albertans, and Canadians who have stepped up for us. Our story is of courage as we return to the unknown. Our story will rise from these ashes.

Thank you to our hero firefighters, who are getting closer to taming “the beast.” Thanks to everyone donating to help Fort McMurray. We will rebuild, and we will shine. Meanwhile, we derive hope from your thoughts, prayers, and kindness.