Taking Care of Those Who Take Care of Us

So much emotion has been expressed in my province this past week.  From awe at the magnitude of the Fort McMurray Wildfire to shock at people losing all of their possecisions to wonder at how our First Responders from all over managed to successfully evacuate over 80,000 people to safety to saddness and grief at the sense of loss to gratitude at the kindness of strangers and the outpouring of love.  Modern technology is an amazing thing - we were able to keep tabs on our loved ones through Facebook and coordinate pop-up supports like YMMHelps.com and a website that is reconnecting families with their pets... all in a matter of minutes (or so it feels like).

This is the second natural disaster in as many years in Alberta, a place that I grew up, moved away from and chose to return to after living all over the US and in Toronto.  It never ceases to amaze me how we, as a province come together and just "Get 'er Done!"  Like last time, during The Flood our First Responders were on hand right away even though some of them had lost their homes and belongs in that disaster.  The same is happing in Fort McMurray.  And it begs the question, who takes care of them when they are taking care of us?  

My friend Alfy is part of crew that was up North and he came back late last night.  We were chatting in the cab ride home and he sounded exhausted and even still he was able to share what more he and others could be doing.  

So while people are giving to the Red Cross I think we need to be looking at those who are in need of support now and down the line.  The brave men and women who went into the fire to get everyone out safely.  The animal rescue people who went to the vacated homes to collect the pets to reunite them with their families.  The individuals who, even though they lost everything, have set up food and water stations for the crews on hand to help them out.  And we need to make it super simple, easy and uncomplicated to access those resources when they need them.  

My request of the big agencies who are raising hundreds of thousands of dollars as a result of this disaster.  Deploy those funds quickly and effeciently. Do not duplicate the work of the front-line organizations that are part of the fabric of the community and know their constituents. Get to know the people who have lost everything and still have the courage and strength to carry on with their job helping others.  If I learned anything from The Flood in 2013 it was that it was the smaller agencies who were nimble and knew who the players were, were the ones that had the greatest impact even though they had the fewest dollars.

If you want to donate to an area of greatest need we are directing funds to five organizations for short and mid-term support ranging from Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society (immediate need) to the Rotary Club of Fort McMurray (rebuilding support as needed) to the foundations for our First Responders - EMS, Police and Fire (mid-term support). 

Fort McMurray