Wednesday, 04 May 2016 16:01

Fort McMurray fires bring out the best, worst in us

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In watching the terrifying images coming from Fort McMurray Tuesday night, it was absolutely heartbreaking to see people flee their homes, businesses and, in reality, their lives.

The wall of orange, yellow and red flames engulfing thousands of hectares of forest and then devastating thousands of people’s lives and it consumed homes and businesses, was overwhelming to see, even to the most detached observer.
Many people across Alberta and across the country have ties to Fort McMurray. Many know people who currently live or work there or were former residents of the area.
It’s been an area which had already been adversely effected economically and socially devastated by the collapse of the petroleum industry, but to see 80,000 residents literally run for their lives is quite another.
It was heartening to see the response of many Albertans and those across the country in efforts to help out. There were wonderful examples Tuesday night of philanthropy of people immediately offering their land for those displaced to come camp and restaurants for people to come eat. People were wondering what was needed — food, material possessions, money — they were willing to give.
Unfortunately, there was also the self-serving ones. Forget the criminals who inevitably will set up scam fundraisers.  There are those who are taking the opportunity, yet again to slam Premier Rachel Notley and the government’s response to this incredible disaster.
Comments, some of which can’t be printed, range from ‘where is the government’s response’, ‘Brad Wall offered public support and assistance first’, ‘the fire’s devastation is the government’s fault,’ etc.
It can also be on the other side of the political spectrum as some are even seemingly happy about it. In one case, a man from Lethbridge tweeted May 3 “Karmic #climatechange fire burns CDN oilsands city. #uspoli #FeelTheBurn #yql...”
For goodness sake people, can we get over ourselves, our agendas and just concentrate on the needs of those who lives have just been shattered?
Put yourself in their shoes. You’re that gas station owner who watches as your business blows up. It actually happened; the Shell station blew up.
The Fort McMurray golf course was on fire. You’ve spent countless hours ensuring its pristine beauty only to watch a raging fire rage through it.
Then imagine, some loudmouth yelling: “yeah, well you can blame Notley for that! If only the government would’ve done (fill in the blank). Can you believe how bad this government is?”
Only the loudmouth doesn’t understand or care, that that business/home owner’s life is now shattered. No home, no income, and a good chance there are no or few possessions left.
Maybe they don’t even have any fuel for their vehicle or they haven’t eaten and these loudmouths are worried about political policy.
Think about it. If you don’t see the ugliness in that borderline glee at seeing something bad happen and adding it to a growing list of anti-NDP or anti-oil examples, it’s time to look in the mirror.
If there is a lesson to be learned here, it’s how callous, self-serving some people have become, especially in their one-track mind way of thinking.
Maybe it’s because of desperate economic times, maybe it’s just the “way it is these days” but for once — as a collective whole — let’s learn this lesson: there are more things outside your own individual realm that are going on in this world and sometimes even in your own backyard.
Look to those who need assistance and see what you can do to help. Whatever “side” you’re on, the political aftermath will be worked out in due course in weeks, months and years ahead.
For those who continue to pile on the Notley (pro or anti-) bandwagon, looking for yet another example of government incompetence or environmental karma,: let’s instead worry about getting people out safely first and foremost, rebuilding what’s left the community and then talking about it was handled after those monumental mountains have been overcome.
How some people are handling the situation is in its own way a disaster in itself.
Got to to see how you can help at or go to the Facebook page under Fort McMurray Evacuee Open Source Help Page.
To donate directly to the Fort McMurray fire through RedCross, visit: or Red Cross 1-800 418-1111 or text 30333.
Ryan Dahlman is managing editor with the Prairie Post. Contact him with your comments about this opinion piece at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor