Reminder - I have a special giveaway for July at this link.
One week from today, I will be moderating this panel at the RWA Conference in San Diego:
The Joy of Writing (WRITER’S LIFE)
Speakers: Anne Elizabeth, Cathy Maxwell, and Julie Rowe
Best-selling, award-winning, and perpetually positive authors share how they savor their passion for writing while navigating the pitfalls of the publishing industry.
I proposed this panel and handpicked each author to participate. I did not know then that Julie would put that positive attitude to work when the Fort McMurray fire broke out in Alberta. Julie shares her perspective of that experience ...
The evacuation was complicated by two things. The fact that only one highway runs through Fort McMurray. Only one road in or out in either direction (north or south), and the distance to the nearest urban center capable of dealing with the entire population of one city and several smaller outlying communities that were also evacuated. That urban center is Edmonton, which is 431 kms (267 miles) south of Fort McMurray.
Imagine for a moment what it would have been like. The roads completely clogged with vehicles, enough smoke to turn day into night and fire all around you. Our firefighters were overwhelmed by the enormity of the fire. It surrounded the city on almost all sides, fed by high temperatures, low humidity, a dry winter and high winds.
If you go to Youtube and search for the Fort McMurray wildfire you’ll get some crazy footage from cellphones and dash-cams as people escaped. Crazy footage.
The evacuation was issued on May 3, 2016. A lot of people still haven’t come back to the city. Some will never come back. I’m back in my home with my husband and family and we’re grateful our home wasn’t affected as much as others.
My worry now is for our first responders. There have been a couple of articles about some of the men and women who saved our city from burning to the ground going through PTSD and all its horrors. These people have been through, not just a battle, but a war. Their opponent wasn’t a terrorist group or army, it was a fire that didn’t act like any fire any of our firefighters have ever experienced before. It seemed…evil. And now, those first responders are getting hit with feelings of guilt, inadequacy and fear.
Like any soldier in the weeks and months following any conflict, there is something they need to know.
Now is the hardest part of any disaster. The adrenaline is gone, but you can't stop seeing the fire. The smoke has disappeared, but you can't stop smelling it. The danger has passed, but your own mind has become an emotional mine field. Security and safety seem impossible now and guilt holds you hostage.
Here's the truth you need to focus on and keep repeating to yourself:
You did everything possible.
No one could have done more.
You saved more homes, businesses and lives than anyone could have expected.
You sacrificed your own homes because of your commitment to our community.
Allow yourself to grieve. It's normal to feel angry, guilty and lost. Now is the time to lean on the rest of us who didn't fight the fire. We're here to fight the fire's ghosts with smiles, hugs and gratitude.
Let us stand with you. Let us fight this battle with you.
Fight the battle at home for your soldier, veteran or first responder. Tell them they’re not alone and keep repeating it. Don’t stop. They might say you can’t understand what they’re going through. That’s a fair statement, but it doesn’t matter. You’re there for them anyway. Always. They fought to keep your community safe, your country safe. You fight to keep them safe from the mental demons they bring home.
Fight the battle. Always.
Cheers, Julie Rowe
Learn more about Julie and her books at julieroweauthor.com.
Thank you, Julie, for remembering the first responders. I am glad you are safe. I am giving away a book choice from my convention stash to one randomly selected commmenter. To enter the giveaway, leave a comment about those who serve. Comments are open through Saturday, July 9, 10 pm in Baltimore. I'll post the winner on Sunday, July 10.
Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City