Evacuated Fort McMurray family grateful for community support
"We won't forget Drumheller," say the Devoes
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.”
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.