Peace River — In times of distress and uncertainty it can be hard to see positives. For High Level residents forced to evacuate their homes due to a massive wildfire threatening their community, this is a feeling they resonate with.
Alberta has seen this before, Fort Mac in 2016 and Slave Lake in 2011, but it is something that never gets any easier to deal with. Families are displaced leaving behind prized possessions and never knowing if they’ll get the chance to see them again.
Now, we haven’t reached the point where the wildfire has actually entered the town of High Level but the fear from those who left are very real. Luckily, they are not fighting this battle alone.
The response from communities in Northern Alberta has been nothing short of spectacular. Peace River, La Crete, High Prairie, and Slave Lake have embraced the high volume of evacuees into their care and is ensuring that nobody gets left behind.
One of those communities, Peace River, opened up a reception center yesterday for evacuees at the Misery Mountain Ski Chalet
Peace River Mayor, Tom Tarpey, said that the community is doing all they can to make sure evacuees feel welcome.
“We’ve been arranging town rooms for them as well as issuing them cards so they can buy essentials,” Tarpey explained, “We would probably be taking more of them but I believe the route south of High Level to Peace River is under a bit of a fire watch so there is a little bit of a concern about fire interfering with transportation”
Tarpey also added that there is an entry on the town’s website that outlines how donations can be made to High Level victims.
That is not where Peace River’s support ends, as other citizens within the community saw this as an opportunity to step up.
President of the P.E.A.C.E Foundation, Sherry Hilton has been very active in acquiring donations for the La Crete reception center.
“My Vice-President and I wanted to try to get something out to the people in La Crete,” Hilton said, “Initially they said [the evacuation] would be 72 hours but it could be 4 or 5 day, its hard to say…even just to throw a ball around outside if your a child cooped up in an evacuee center is not a lot of fun”
Hilton also added that they would be taking donations at River City Cinema and Real Canadian Superstore in Peace River. They plan on running the donations up to the La Crete reception center when they are able to.
Peace River isn’t the only community opening their arms to wildfire evacuees. As mentioned previously, the communities of High Prairie, Slave Lake, and La Crete have all been doing spectacular jobs at accommodating everyone who has been forced out of their homes as well.
If there is a positive to be taken out of this overly negative situation, it’s that Northern Alberta will stand with each other through both the bad and the good.
It’ll take a lot more than a fire to divide us.
— Preston Hodgkinson, Trending 55 Newsroom