Honouring the Heroes

Member of Legislative Assembly Report

By Tany Yao,MLA of Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo

Tany Yao

Tany Yao

This week we had an opportunity to honour the heroes of the Fort McMurray fires.

Through their service and sacrifice, they’ve given so much to our community, and it was an honour to rise in the Alberta Legislature Monday and thank them for their tremendous effort. I know these brave souls don’t like being called heroes. They’ll tell you that they’re just doing their job, but to run into a burning city when everyone is running out is incredulous to most people.

To fight to save their neighbour’s home even while their own was ablaze … they’ll say that they were just doing their job. To live for days with almost no sleep, no food, and not enough air tanks to go around, and a water supply that was dwindling; it was simply adapting to the job at hand, to keep fighting even when the smoke was so thick, visibility was impaired and breathing was difficult.

If people can imagine sitting around a campfire and the wind shifts and the smoke heads in your direction blanketing you, that’s what it was like 24 hours a day, seven days a week for these men and women.

To improvise and organize the largest evacuation in our province’s history is phenomenal. We extend heartfelt condolences to our friends who did lose family members during the evacuation, the Ryan and Hodgson families.

The main communications tower for the fire department was lost on the first day. For emergency services to co-ordinate so many crews throughout that community was a feat unto itself. These outstanding men and women are heroes.

During the first days of re-entry, our first responders welcomed home the people of Fort McMurray by flying a flag on top of our overpass at the entrance to the city. After being driven from their homes, our people returned to a sight of reassurance and endurance, and that is why this bridge has been rightly re-named Responders Way. Thank you so much for that.

While there is no way the people of Alberta could ever thank you enough for your dedication and steadfast commitment to Fort McMurray, we hope that they will accept this symbol of our appreciation.

Finally, I do wish to thank those who volunteered in supporting our community and the emergency responders: The people who drove up and down that highway to provide much needed gasoline and food to those who were stranded; the homeless guy who walked over to MacIsland, where emergency crews were staged, and started cooking for them with what little food was available. That guy is a hero, too. To the folks that drove into town, somehow past every security block, and brought in water, food, coffee, whatever it was; they helped our responders just so they could have the basics so that they could continue on. Those guys are heroes.

To the volunteers who tirelessly worked to lend a hand by whatever means they could, whether it was taking a displaced family into their homes right across this province, right across this country or providing money, clothing, and support: Fort McMurray thanks you all.

To the communities and organizations in support of the displaced, from Wandering River and Athabasca to Lac La Biche and Boyle, all the way down to Chestermere and Medicine Hat, from Northlands to Samaritan’s Purse and so many other organizations: Thank you so much.

Our community was tested, but the resolve has never been stronger. After many years of our community being viewed as the embarrassing cousin of Alberta communities, it’s heartening to see that our province stood together, united with love and support, and for that I thank you all, in tears.

Tany Yao is the Wildrose Caucus Chair and Member of Legislative for Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo. Yao can be reached by email at fortmcmurray.woodbuffalo@assembly.ab.ca or by phone at 780-790-6014.

– Connect Weekly –