Message From The Mayor
I’d like to start by thanking the team at Your McMurray Magazine (YMM) for putting together this commemorative issue. The last few months have been the most challenging in our history and connecting with residents is incredibly important for everyone on Council.
We couldn’t do it without our terrific media partners and YMM, along with all of our local media outlets, who do a great job of helping us keep residents informed. Thank you.
As I write this, my heart and mind is with everyone in my hometown – Fort McMurray – and the entire region. I am especially thinking of those that lost homes or have restricted access because of the tragic wildfires that devastated our community.
Not a day goes by that you’re not on our minds. Please know that no matter what happens, we are behind you as we recover and rebuild together. You are Council’s first priority and we will always to do our best to keep you safe and supported during this challenging time for all of us.
I can’t stress enough that we didn’t just lose houses. We lost homes. Home to Christmas dinner. Home to high school graduation photos. Home to first dates, street hockey games, lemonade stands, neighbourhood barbeques, birthday parties, laughter, fun and memories. This is what we lost – a huge piece of our identity.
Looking back, the good news is we were able to save 90 per cent of the homes in Fort McMurray. Let’s never forget what our firefighters, RCMP and municipal law enforcement officers, first responders and municipal staff did in the initial response to this crisis. To those of you that never left and returned immediately to save our community: words cannot express how much we owe you for your efforts.
You not only evacuated almost 90,000 people safely in a few short hours in the most difficult of conditions, but then alongside our provincial partners you saved all, yes, all of our core infrastructure. Truly incredible!
Let me take you back to Tuesday, May 3rd. The day that changed our lives forever...
That beautiful sunny morning, the wildfire was about 2,500 hectares in size, less than one per cent of what it is today. We were ready to handle it. After all, this is Fort McMurray and the North and we’ve seen fires before.
You know what happened next because you lived it.
As I think about those first few days and what it means to be safe, resilient and together; that’s not just an ideal. That’s not a vision for the future, as aspirational as it sounds. This is already our reality because it happened on May 3rd and every day since.
While we have years of hard work ahead of us, I know we’re going to get there because that’s who we are. As a community, we have always lived those principles.
It’s easy to say it was a miracle that we all got out safely that day. But it’s really more likely that we have a community today because of a heroic amount of hard work done by tireless, talented, strong, resilient people. They stuck together and refused to quit when we needed it most. Safe. Resilient. Together. That’s Fort McMurray and that’s Wood Buffalo.