You have worked hard – and lovingly – to make your house a home. At work, you team up with your colleagues to provide a service to others as well as connect with them on a personal level. This is your second home and family. Imagine then rising on a May morning and the skies are not blue but dark gray. The air is not clean and clear but smoky. You feel the heat of raging fires, not the gentle warmth of the sun. Your home, the familiar place you work, your family and your city have all awakened to hell. That’s no bad dream; it was reality for the folks in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada.
Wildfires, fueled by low humidity, high temperatures and wind, raged through nearly 400,000 acres of land, forced the evacuation of 88,000 people, and destroyed 2,400 structures. A space traveler could easily view the billowing smoke from miles above earth. It was a “beast” of a fire alright, but this beast was bettered by the resilient people of Fort McMurray.
With a branch located in Fort McMurray, WillScot is part of that team and our mobile offices and trailers – as in the aftermath of any disaster - will play an important role in the rebirth.
Amazingly, no deaths are directly attributed to the wildfires. All the schools were saved. Only 10-15% of the structures in town were decimated. The hospital remained open. Oil sands production was halted but no facilities north of the city were damaged. In all, 25,000 structures were saved by brave firefighters, some of whom were losing their own homes while they saved others.
Now that the “beast” is under control, the process of recovery and rebuilding begins. The people love their community. “Fort McMurray is still alive, we’re here,” Deputy Fire Chief Darby Allen said. “We’re ready for the future and when we get back we can build a future together.” Residents and companies that are based in the area are up for the challenge. With a branch located in Fort McMurray, WillScot is part of that team and our mobile offices and trailers – as in the aftermath of any disaster - will play an important role in the rebirth.
Our branch was lucky; no damages were reported, but two of our employees and their families had to evacuate to Edmonton. “The industry response to the relief effort has been incredible to say the least - like many others, we have had employees at WillScot personally impacted by the fires. Most important is all are safe and the support has been beyond expectations. We continue to mobilize and ship units into the Fort McMurray area and expect more requirements as recovery efforts continue. I am proud to be part of the WillScot Team and our Industry and we will continue to support the recovery efforts on all fronts,” said Tom Bruyea, Vice President/GM – WillScot Canada/Alaska.
To date, we have shipped a significant number of temporary solutions into Fort McMurray, such as wash facilities, dorms, kitchens/diners, modular offices, guard shacks and storage containers – all the items a city needs to replace so that people can meet, rest and eat, as well as store and safeguard what remains. Service teams from several branches remain focused on honoring equipment requests quickly – the same day if humanly possible. Along with this much-needed space, we have included our 360 Service Solutions which are office, conference, café, planning and workstation packages that ensure the temporary space is ready to work from the moment it arrives at its destination. Because of their flexibility and immediate availability, modular solutions perform their noblest service by returning a degree of normalcy to situations far from normal.
The cost to rebuild Fort McMurray is estimated at $9 billion (Canadian dollars) and is considered the worst natural disaster in Canadian history. Beyond the support our mobile offices will provide to Fort McMurray, WillScot will donate $10,000 to the Canadian Red Cross to help in the recovery efforts. We encourage others to help, too, at http://www.redcross.ca/. All individual donations are being matched by the Government of Canada.
Arise from the ashes, Fort McMurray. We are behind you every step of the way.