So my family and I are home. The house is still standing and everything was just as we left it. That was the biggest relief of all. We were thinking the worst when we pulled into our driveway and thankfully, our thinking the worst was merely an exercise.
The drive itself was long, but it was enjoyable, believe it or not. We started at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday morning — even though Municipal and Community Affairs Minister Shane Thompson told us not to go until Wednesday (sorry, Shane, I’ll make it up to you somehow) — and took the back way home through Slave Lake and Fort Vermilion. We somehow ended up at the barricade before 10 p.m. Tuesday evening and naturally, media wasn’t an essential source and we weren’t allowed through.
I ended up becoming barricade buddies with some of my colleagues from CBC North as we all waited for 11 a.m. Wednesday morning. Couldn’t have spent it with better people and I mean that.
Now that I have some time to sit and think, I have some things to say, so here goes:
Going through an evacuation is something no one should ever have to experience. The not knowing where you’re going to end up, the wondering about what’s going on back home … it’s a horrible feeling.
The good thing is that so many people are willing to help you out on the journey and when you eventually arrive to where you are. The biggest thanks of all on behalf of my family goes to Tina Hobbs and Don Stewart, their daughter Destiny, and Destiny’s roommate, Lisa. We didn’t know where we were going until Tina and Destiny told us we were going to stay with them in Camrose, Alta. Had it not been for their willingness to open up their basement for us, we didn’t know where home would be while we were away.
It would’ve been easy enough to roll up to an evacuation centre — and that’s what we were willing to do, just like thousands of others did — but the offer of a house was too good to pass up. We owe the Hobbs-Stewart family large for their generosity.
I also want to thank the city of Camrose for being our hosts for three weeks. It had that Yellowknife-type feel and everyone we met in the city, no matter how brief the conversation may have been, was welcoming and very kind. The good thing is that if we ever return, we know exactly where we’re going. For now, we’ll say farewell to Camrose and we thank you.
Of course, to Chris Greencorn, Peter Houweling and everyone who stayed behind to do the work to make sure the fire stayed away, we all salute you. To NWT Fire and every single one of the firefighters who have been out doing everything to keep the fires at bay, we all salute you. Every single one of those people deserve every bit of gratitude we can muster. They’ve put up with some people pissing and moaning on social media (thankfully, those people are in the minority), but every single one of those people deserve to have a drink bought for them. If you see these people, tell them how much you appreciate them.
If this is the only time Yellowknife ever has to go through something like this, count your blessings. I’ve never been so happy to see that city limits sign on Highway 3 than I was Wednesday morning. Now the job of getting this city back to where it should be starts. We all know it’s a great place and no city looks after its own like we do.
So let’s show everyone how it’s done.