Thoughts on rebuilding from the Fort McMurray fires

The devastation is overwhelming as I watch the news and social media feeds regarding the fires in Northern Alberta. Eighty thousand people evacuated and displaced from their homes, forced to flee down a gridlocked highway as they dragged small children and pets out of harm’s way.

The helplessness they must have felt while trying to get to safety has been on my mind for days as I wondered how to help. I donated to the Red Cross and joined a group on facebook of AREA realtors offering up places to stay and to keep campers and even livestock.

No matter what our part in responding to a crisis, it never feels like enough and it is with a heavy heart that I continue to think about what these poor citizens will be faced with over the next few weeks.

When the Slave Lake fires ravaged that community I met with developers who were rebuilding and was encouraged by the willingness of contractors who were travelling there to help construct new residences.

I feel that the rebuilding of Fort Mac will be a much larger scale and it will be with anticipation that I look to get involved with future endeavors.

How do you rebuild after losing everything?

How does one go about replacing their carefully built home and still manage to keep spirits up in the face of such devastation?

I have helped clients devastated by flood and fire and have seen some beautiful examples of the human spirit.

In times like these we realize that family is our core and our home and that all the other things in our world is just ‘stuff’. We hug our kids tighter and learn to slow down and take inventory of what we have that truly means everything to us.

It is important to remember that houses can be rebuilt and that our worldly possessions can be re-purchased.

The loss of family heirlooms and photographs is heartbreaking but as you look at your family and (one photo I saw) your toddler happily playing in the back of the car while you wait in a four-hour line up for fuel you realize that you truly have all you need.

The thought of what was lost is temporarily faded as you look into the face of your children and give your family pet a reassuring scratch behind the ears.

Our priorities can change in an instant with the direction of the wind, causing us to flee our homes and uprooting us from our comfort.

It is in those hours that we mourn the loss of what was, become grateful for what is and look forward to what will be.

Our thoughts and prayers and support are with our fellow Albertans as they regroup and rebuild from this horrific tragedy. Look for those who are available to help and reach out to everyone you can in this devastating time.

We are a strong and resilient province and we will recover from this. God bless Alberta, my proud home for my entire life.

Kim Wyse is a local freelance designer. Find her on facebook at ‘Ask a Designer’.