Fort McMurray 2 years later: a long road to recovery
Remember Merrie-Rae Mitsopoulos? She was the Principal at Dr. K.A Clark Public School in Fort McMurray, Alberta when the 2016 wildfire happened, affecting over 80,000 people in the surrounding communities. Last year, we sat down with her to hear her personal story, the story of her school, and the story of a community who responded to the devastating forest fires with incredible strength and resilience.
Now 2 years later, we caught up with Merrie-Rae again. She has since moved on to a position with the district, but still stays in close contact with her former school. So, how are things going in Fort McMurray? According to Merrie-Rae, ‘The community is doing well; a lot of people are still displaced, but slowly, families are going home. It’s a long process’. Indeed it is: today, more than 1,500 families still need financial assistance from the Red Cross while dealing with their recovery.
At Dr. K.A Clark, the school population is slowly growing back to what it used to be prior to the fires, as families move back into their old neighbourhood. When the school re-opened after the blaze, there were 360 students; today, there are 431. This good news also means the Breakfast Club program is busier than ever, now serving between 55 and 60 children daily. ‘We are thankful every day for the breakfast program. We are also grateful for the people who run it, like Miss Cora who volunteers so much of her time: she shops, builds the menu, cooks, serves, cleans up… people like that are gold to us’, said Merrie-Rae.
When we visited the school last year, the Breakfast Club of Canada team was blown away by the warmth, positivism and energy of everyone we met. Our team to the staff and students of Dr. K.A Clark and to the community of Fort McMurray, we salute you for staying #FortMcMurrayStrong