My heart aches for the people of Fort McMurray as does many of yours.
I had only heard from a distance about the forest fires up in the Fort Mac area until last night. I was volunteering at a Pastors Conference and about five o'clock we could tell something had changed in Fort Mac.
There were a number of pastors and spouses at the conference from Fort Mac and all of the sudden there was a flurry of cell phone activity and people coming out from the conference to make calls. These pastors had left their families at home to come attend the conference. One lady stood and there and related that she thought her house had just burned down and that her daughter who had been told to evacuate had the police come up to her car and tell her to get out and "run". They told her to run down the street to another road and find a vehicle that she could jump into and flee.
As more families started to congregate in the hall - about 10 families were affected there last night, our thoughts and prayers changed to only Fort Mac for a while. The town had just been told to "get out" - a total evacuation order had come into effect.
I was able to hold a lady and cry with her as she talked to her husband (who was in Fort Mac) as they told each other they loved each other. Her daughter was with her sister were safely headed out of town, her husband trying to find a way out and they had no idea where her 13 year old son was - he was with friends. She also figured her house was gone up in flames.
Another man visiting from Africa had his son staying with a family in Fort Mac while he attended the conference - they were also trying to make contact. One family had a pregnant daughter who was due any day, she was getting out - her husband was a fire fighter - he was staying.
My heart was so heavy on the way out of the conference, as I walked down the hallway passing these precious people on their phones trying to get information on their families, believing for God to take care of their families, but anxious to hear some news. At the door just as I was to leave I spotted one young mom and she looked almost undone. I went over to her and held her as she broke into tears and said they were trying to calm her two girls down (11 and 7) but it was so hard when all you could do was hear their fear in their voices as they yelled and cried out for "mommy". I looked over at Daddy as he was talking to these girls - I heard him say - "..I know you don't want to, but this is what I need you to do...."
The conference took time out to pray for these families and for ALL the people of Fort McMurray because truly only God can send the help and provide protection that is needed at this time. It is truly a miracle that at this moment no injuries or fatalities have been reported and for that we are truly thankful.
When I got to my car I felt so helpless and so I started texting people to pray - to lift up Fort McMurray and ask God to intervene on behalf of the people there. One of my dear friends sent me the above picture that her son and his wife took on their way out of Fort Mac as he was there as well. They got safely to an evacuation site but said that the truck was "so hot" as they drove and that the smoke got so bad they could not see the car in front of them. I also heard other stories later on as other friends found their loved ones - I imagine there will be innumerable stories to tell.
One lady expressed best - the feeling of "not sure what to do next" - all she cared about was her family being safe but then what? If their house was gone what was the next step or the one after that. Her immediate family was all back east. Life was and is about to change drastically for the displaced Fort Mac people.
I wanted to write some of their stories here today because it is something I can tangibly do to bring awareness of others peoples hardship so that we too can intercede in prayer for this town and ask God what or if there is anything we can physically do to help. Please join me as one dear friend put it - "Pound on the doors of heaven".