The untold stories

I have read countless accounts of what happened in those crazy hours when we made our way south and north of Fort McMurray to safety.  I have heard several others firsthand, amazing accounts of responding and adapting to unbelievable circumstances.

This picture brings it all home for me.  This is Heather and the boys as they began their exodus north as I escaped south.

Some people drove through flames on either side of the road, heat pulsing through the body of the vehicle, with hot embers bouncing off the hood.

Other sought refuge in unlikely places, choosing to sleep on whatever soft material they could find, relying on the kindness of strangers.

In some cases, the terror was vocalized.  In many, it was internalized.

Many have told their story dozens of times and cringe at the thought of being asked to tell them again.  Many others can't begin to find the words.

Like the most epic events in human history, stories will be told and shared for years to come of the Fort McMurray fire.  We'll hear tales of inexplicable bravery, unfathomable luck, and sheer determination.  We'll hear amusing anecdotes of what people did and said in the face of the evolving crisis.  People will smile recounting the harrowing escapes to safety with the clothes on their backs and the package of cheese slices in the back seat.  I'll never forget considering abandoning my vehicle and running down Beacon Hill in my flip flops to get to my family.  While completely irrational, it was what my instincts told me to do in the face of the flames.

I can only imagine the stories we will eventually hear from behind the lines, from the fire fighters, policemen, and myriad first responders and support personnel.  We will be no doubt blown away by the accounts of what was done to preserve our community and save lives.

There are elements of my own story that are still coming into focus, crumbles of memory that were left behind in the flames, heat and smoke.

My hope is that everyone has the opportunity to share their story in a way that is comfortable for them.  Expressing the experience in some way is part of the healing process, and essential to our recovery as individuals and as a community.


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