To Our Friends & Fellow Albertans Affected by the Alberta wildfires in FT McMurray & Elsewhere.

Being in business for over 30 years and living in Alberta for about 35 years we have all overcome many challenges. I lived through the tornado in 1987, the worst in Canadian history. I was driving home, at the time, north on highway 2 from Calgary, watching as the tornado was travelling north heading directly for Clareview where I lived.  With my two young children I drove to the west end where I worked not knowing if my home was destroyed. My home wasn’t but two blocks over it was surreal seeing homes destroyed and a car sitting in some poor home owner’s living room. In the city there were places for those directly affected to go to. Hospitals were minutes away. The radio reports helped you navigate around flooded underpasses and blocked roads. Help was immediate.

The Slave Lake Alberta wildfire in 2011 caused the evacuation of the town’s 7,000 residents with towns and a major city fairly close. The difference with Fort McMurray is that a whole city of 88,000 residents, miles and hours away from immediate help had to be suddenly evacuated. A bright, sunny day turned into the Gates of Hell when the wind shifted on an Alberta wildfire. Numbers of people couldn’t get home to get personal items such as passports, medications, pets and supplies. There are thousands of personal stories; some fleeing with children with no food, no water, no diapers and no place to find shelter; some driving with fire raging on both sides of the evacuation route and flecks of ashes and fire raining down on their vehicle.

No words can comfort those fleeing from an Alberta wildfire. Action is a different thing. But then again, this is Alberta where people drove up and down the highway with food, water and fuel for those sitting in huge lineups that have run out of gas. This is Alberta where the majority of people and businesses are either doing or donating. This Alberta, the land of evil oil, but more specifically Ft. McMurray that embraced the unemployed and underemployed from across the country when times were good and money flowed east. And now, this is Alberta where the country, from Newfoundland to BC, is donating to help out the residences of Fort McMurray and for that we are thankful.

The immediate needs are food, shelter and the basic needs of daily life. For some getting over the shock of being uprooted and losing much of their most personal and precious possessions, the time of healing will take longer. ‘It’s just stuff’ is important and heartbreaking when it’s your stuff. Yet, however difficult it is we have to rebuild and will rebuild.

Ft. McMurray is oil and like thousands of others we make our money off that oil. As a business we will keep our prices low and lower where we can. Besides our normal products we have secured some access to pumps, generators, cleaning supplies, disposable clothing and better pricing on Fire Retardant garments where we can. The reality is our business is not just product but the relationships we have with long-time customers and new customers we get to meet.

When you need us we will be there for you but for now we pray for your comfort and safety.

-Frank and staff at Direct Workwear Ltd.


Rex Murphy | Fort McMurray Wildfire


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