Evac­u­ated Fort McMur­ray fam­ily grate­ful for com­mu­nity sup­port

"We won't for­get Drumheller," say the Devoes

The Drumheller Mail - - FRONT PAGE - Pa­trick Ko­lafa

A fam­ily from Fort McMur­ray says they are eter­nally grate­ful for the kind­ness and gen­eros­ity of the com­mu­nity of Drumheller who have been there, and con­tinue to be there in their time of need.

Brent Devoe and his fam­ily were given five min­utes to leave their homes in Prairie Creek on the south end of Fort McMur­ray last Sun­day. His son and daugh­ter-in-law live a few blocks away and they too heard the sound of emer­gency speak­ers telling res­i­dents to pack up.

It was a har­row­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

“We were some of the first peo­ple that were evac­u­ated,” said Jenny Mus­grave, Brent’s daugh­ter in law. “On Sun­day the po­lice came at about 10 p.m. and gave us 5 min­utes.

Brent said there was con­fu­sion.

“We didn’t know what was go­ing on, we had no clue. Ev­ery­one around us was pack­ing up, we didn't pack any­thing,” said Brent. “All of the sud­den we had to leave the house.”

“I was in full panic, “adds Jenny.

With es­sen­tially the clothes on their back, the fam­i­lies hit the road. In all, eight peo­ple from three gen­er­a­tions were trav­el­ling down the high­way. Brent said they made it to Boyle by 2 a.m., where they took refuge.

“We could have went north, but we de­cided to head right out of town,” said Jenny.

Brent adds, “We made the right move. Had we waited any longer we may have ended up on a cot some­where with 200 peo­ple. We were some of the lucky ones.”

They count them­selves dou­bly lucky for com­ing to Drumheller. Brent ex­plains that his daugh­ter Erica lives in Drumheller and that they have of­ten vis­ited.

“We fig­ured we’ll head this way, but we all can’t pile in on her so we would get a ho­tel room,” said Brent.

When they ar­rived in town, they were shocked at the sup­port they re­ceived. Right away they heard from Jamie Wor­man, Linda Buchamer and Ash­ley Fred­er­ick­son. They pro­vided emer­gency fund­ing, some new clothes and some toys for the kids in tow.

This was just the be­gin­ning as res­i­dents and busi­nesses be­gan show­ing sup­port. Ar­son Gincher at Shop­pers Drug Mart al­lowed the fam­ily to pick up what­ever sup­plies they needed. At meal­time, Sub­way al­lowed the fam­ily to come and eat free. They have re­ceived gift cards for restau­rants prod­ucts, and dis­counts from stores all over. Canalta has of­fered the fam­ily a dis­count at the Su­per 8 and ar­ranged its rooms to al­low the fam­ily to stay in com­fort. The own­er­ship hand de­liv­ered gift cards for lo­cal busi­nesses to help the fam­ily out.

To al­low the fam­ily to have a lit­tle down­time, tick­ets to the East Coulee Spring Fes­ti­val were do­nated and ap­pre­ci­ated.

“We can­not be­lieve just how gen­er­ous peo­ple are here,” said Jenny.

Brent says there have been more demon­stra­tions of gen­eros­ity and apol­o­gizes if he did not men­tion all of them. He said the gen­eros­ity goes be­yond sim­ply gifts, but the will­ing­ness to help.

“I met two ladies on the street and when Fort McMur­ray was men­tioned, they came up to me and asked if we needed any­thing. These are strangers I have never met in my whole life,” he said.

“Peo­ple would stop us in the street and of­fer us hugs and sym­pa­thy. I am so glad we came here in- stead of one of the big­ger cities,” said Jenny.

They have since learned that fire­fight­ers had built a fire­break, which diverted the flames away from their homes. While Brent’s house was not burned, he doesn’t know if there is any smoke dam­age, and be­cause it is built on wet ground, with­out his pump run­ning, he sus­pects his base­ment is flooded.

They do not know how long they will be evac­u­ated,.Brent works at Syn­crude Aurora and so far, he says his sec­tion has not gone back to work.

One of their fam­ily mem­bers has been flown back north to re­turn to work.

Drumheller has made an im­pres­sion on the fam­ily. In fact, Brent says he wishes to re­tire to the val­ley. He has found the sup­port over­whelm­ing.

“I have worked all my life since I was 13, we have never been one to have things given to us,” he said.

“The town has been so good to us, we will never for­get that.”

mailphoto by Pa­trick Ko­lafa

The Devoe fam­ily are grate­ful for the sup­port they have re­ceived from the Drumheller com­mu­nity af­ter they were evac­u­ated from Fort McMur­ray be­cause of the wild fires. They are (back; l-r) Jenny Mus­grave, John Devoe, Gla­dys Devoe and Brent Devoe, with Brody and Bre­ton Devoe.

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