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A poem to move forward from the Alberta fires

Story by Calli Forbes

When Peter Derban visited the Red Cross office in Fort McMurray, he shared a poem written about his experiences during the Alberta fires. Through his poetry, he is sure to give credit where credit is due.
 
‘Fire department in Fort Mac like angels work hard, all day and night.
They are tired, won’t give up. Evil flames they fight, nonstop.”
 
Although he is hesitant to say it, Peter also played a role in battling the flames. The Fort McMurray resident owns a water truck business, and during the fires he volunteered his time and resources to provide water to first responders as they responded to the fires. Peter worked straight through May 16 to 22, concentrating his water supply where it was most urgent.
 
 “I thought I might be needed, so I stayed and I’m not sorry at all. It was not only me; there were lots of others,” Peter explained.
 
“The fire was jumping from here to there, jumping from there to the sawmill. Those (workers) are going to be out of a job, so you don’t look at that and say, ‘Who is going to pay? Who is going to do that?’ You just go and do the job.”
 
In his poem, Peter also recognizes the generosity of Canadians who donated towards the Canadian Red Cross:
 
“Money is collected fast around the clock.
To help Canadian Red Cross.
Food and clothes are donated fast.
People say thanks; we won’t forget.”
 
After meeting with a Red Cross caseworker, Peter was assisted with rental payments and groceries to help him manage some of the out-of-pocket expenses he accumulated from volunteering during the fires.
 
“I am more than grateful, and I’m sure it’s thousands and thousands of people, not only here, but those in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, those people who didn’t come back,” he said. “This is the Canadian way.”
 
For more information on how the Canadian Red Cross is supporting residents impacted by the Alberta Fires, please click here
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