Living through the aftermath

Letter from the Editor

By Dawn Booth, Connect Weekly

The sun sets on Centennial RV Park Campground on September 14. Photo by DAWN BOOTH, Connect Weekly

The sun sets on Centennial RV Park Campground on September 14. Photo by DAWN BOOTH, Connect Weekly.

Life is moving forward in Fort McMurray… or is it? At times, it’s impossible to tell as it depends on where in our city you stand or who you are speaking with.

I’ve been driving back and forth to Edmonton almost weekly since July. (Before the fire, I would only head out of the city twice a year.) The recent frequent travelling has really allowed me to gain a good perspective on Fort McMurray’s overall scenery and the wildfire regrowth/rebuilding progress at first glance.

Each time I return home, I take it in as if I were seeing the city for the first time. When I think of how we are today, I compare our community to the forest.

In the beginning of my residency, it was the Boreal forest that made me fall in love with our community back in 2007. Soon after, it was the people within it.

Looking at the Boreal today, it’s evident how it has really developed its own rare beauty. As the seasons have changed, the burnt trees appear to be mixed in with the rest in a camouflaged-like way. And as the snow falls will continue, it will be harder to determine the difference between the damaged and untouched foliage.

Inside the city and unlike the trees surrounding us, it’s still easier to pinpoint the devastated neighbourhoods at ground level. However, it’s impossible to match-up each individual resident to their wildfire story and know how it impacts their daily life.

When I’m at the grocery store or in the city crowd, I look at others – like I do the trees – and wonder which is which. I wonder if the person I’m looking at has been able to create a normalcy again, or if they are still stuck in evacuation mode.

I catch smiles from others, and hope that they are the people who have lost everything, but continue to smile and find the positivity each day can bring.

Living through the aftermath is hard.

I know what it’s like living each day without having any control of the situation. (We all felt it on the days the wildfires came in.) I can relate because I’m still stuck in the tragedy. And though I didn’t lose my home, I haven’t got back to ‘normal’.

To those of you who have been hit the hardest, I encourage you to utilize our resources – our people – to the best of your capability. And if you feel like you’re tapped out and still tied down, get in touch with the ones around you – community ambassadors, neighbours, colleagues and friends. I promise you, you’re not fighting this battle alone.

I have spent the past nine years thriving in our beloved Wood Buffalo, and there’s so many residents who still have passion for our community. Whether they’ve lost their home or they’ve have been suffering with a different tragedy of their own, there are people here who continue to wake up each day with a goal to make things better.

This is the Fort McMurray I’ve always known, and nothing has changed in the aspect of our residents who selflessly put their dedication out to help others.

And though this tragedy is now a part of who we are, it’s OK. The many generations of people before us have proved we can overcome the devastation. We should allow our roots to run deep into our communities, and continue the legacy of our region’s everlasting resiliency.

– Connect Weekly –