It's hard to believe that six months have now passed since the day I was forced to leave work, my house and then my community due to a raging wildfire that has since been dubbed The Beast. Almost exactly six months ago to the minute I was sitting in my tenant's truck outside the recreation centre in Anzac still trying to wrap my brain around what was happening before slowly drifting off to sleep. I had no idea if my house was still standing and no idea that it would be thirty-three days before I would be able to make my way home. I also had no idea that within 24 hours I would be evacuated yet again, fleeing down Highway 881 to Conklin, where I spent a second night sleeping in a truck before finally making it to Lac La Biche.
Today was actually very much like May 3 in some respects for me. Like that fateful day, today was also a work day. Work was actually shut down today as well, although this shut down only lasted a couple hours and was caused by a solid bout of freezing rain rather than a fire. Other than this though, my experiences today diverge wildly from that day 6 months ago. I got to go home on my work bus and catch a little sleep rather than in a panic in a taxi. I get to sleep in my own bed tonight rather than a truck and the cat, I'm sure, is much more content curled up beside me than crammed in to a cat carrier. Three days after the evacuation I had had plans to see the Calgary Philharmonic. Tonight I booked a ticket to see them again and I rest assured that this time I won't have my plans interrupted by a major civil emergency. Life is certainly much more stable than on that day six months ago and I'm profoundly grateful.
My area of the city has been pretty much back to normal for some time now though other areas still have a long road ahead of them. Within the past couple of weeks the sole house in my neighbourhood that was engulfed by The Beast has been levelled and a new home is quickly taking form. Now that all the leaves have fallen, it can be hard on some days to even see any damage in the forest around my neighbourhood, at least from a distance.
This city had already been reeling from the effects of the oil crash and several rounds of layoffs before the Beast roared in to town. I count myself fortunate to have made it thus far with only a few small bumps and no major concerns to have to deal with. Six months.....it's been quite the journey since that day.