EDITORIAL: Fort McMurray fire hits hearts

Find out how you can donate to Fort McMurray residents

So often disasters don’t feel real for those not in the immediate area. But the fire that devastated Fort McMurray and continues to terrorize surrounding areas is a topic many locals can relate to.

The fires burning in Alberta and even in our own province are a lot closer to home than many of us realize.

A number of West Shore residents work in Fort McMurray, and an even larger number have friends or relatives that live or work there. While we may not experience the destruction first-hand, the compelling stories that are filling our social media feeds are leaving few with dry eyes. Many are left helplessly on the sidelines, watching footage of their homes burning down or arguably worse, not knowing if their home is lost or one of the miraculous left standing.

It’s a good wake-up call for local residents to be prepared in the event of a local disaster. Often times we think we’ll have time to prepare before having to leave in an emergency, but as the residents of Fort McMurray can attest, that doesn’t always happen.

Now, as we head into a summer season that is forecasted to be long and dry, we need to help our local fire departments in avoiding a similar situation that could easily ignite on the West Shore.

We also have a duty to those that are left picking up the pieces of their former life. There are a number of ways for local residents to contribute to aid efforts and many organizations are urging residents to donate money, rather than physical items.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently announced the federal government will match individual donations made to the Canadian Red Cross to help those affected by the wildfire. Go to redcross.ca to find out more. Many merchants are also matching donations made in their stores before passing them on.

Black Press is also one of the many companies aiding in relief efforts with a crowd funding site set up to collect donations. Go to blackpress4good.com and click on the Fort McMurray campaign.

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