They don’t know when they will get to see their home again, but a family from Fort McMurray is taking comfort in each other as they stay with relatives in Regina.
As she packed up food, sleeping bags and camping gear, Brenda Muir told her kids to pack anything that really mattered to them from their home in Fort McMurray.
“It was pretty scary just knowing that you will just leave and you might not see your house again,” described 11-year-old Draven Muir.
But he and his sister knew right away what was important to bring – their first answer was their cats.
“Probably just my cats and my family, that’s all you really need,” he explained from his grandparent’s home in Regina.
Now the whole family – cats and dogs included – are staying with their relatives in Regina.
Brooklyn Muir said she is sad for her hometown, but she is thankful to be with her family in Regina and she’s even made some new friends at school.
Her mom explained that they enrolled the kids in school to give them a sense of routine and community while they wait to return home.
The family spent the first night after being evacuated at one of their favourite lakes where they go fishing north of Fort McMurray. The next day they had to split up. Jerry Muir waited for co-workers to bring gas because the only gas station was running out, while Brenda Muir drove the kids south to safety after the highway reopened.
She knew their destination would be to her hometown of Regina to stay with her family. As they drove through the province on Thursday, she listened to the Saskatchewan Day of Caring on the radio.
“We’re completely blown away by the generosity of the people of Saskatchewan and the generosity of Canadians all across the country with their donations to the Red Cross,” Brenda Muir said.
While she watched updates on the fires from the media, local officials and the Alberta government, she found it comforting to see the support pouring in.
“It has meant so much to me, I can’t even explain in words how it’s made myself and my husband feel.”
This week, she saw the first pictures of the destruction in some Fort McMurray neighbourhoods.
“That was very emotional. When I saw Beacon Hill, it was really sad to see peoples’ houses and neighbourhood completely burned down,” Brenda said, noting that she recognized the road she often drove to go to the hockey rink.
As for the firefighters and first responders who stayed to fight the fire, she and her daughter echo the message of Draven Muir.
“Thanks a million and I really appreciate all your support in saving the town,” he said.
Although it may take a long time, they all look forward to the day when they can go home again.
“I don’t think it’ll be the same, but I know as Albertans, we’ll probably persevere and rebuild the town,” Draven said.