Whitecourt, Alta., businesses serve hot meals with a side of gratitude for wildfire crews

Whitecourt, Alta., businesses serve hot meals with a side of gratitude for wildfire crews

Escalating wildfire hazard led to the postponement of an awards banquet in Whitecourt two weeks in the past — however organizers didn’t name off the four-course meal.

As an alternative, forestry firm West Fraser, which operates the native Blue Ridge Lumber mill, delivered the meals to wildfire emergency responders from close by Lac Ste. Anne County and Yellowhead County. Crew members every received a serving of roast beef and hen sous-chef, salads, greens, mashed potatoes and gravy, and dessert.

Kelly Grey, of Catering by Mama Grey’s Kitchen and The Enviornment Restaurant & Lounge, ready the feast.

“[The company] didn’t even wish to change the menu,” she mentioned.

“They wished to provide these firefighters and these crews precisely what they had been going to get for his or her awards banquet, which I assumed was fairly wonderful.”

Whitecourt is about 180 kilometres northwest of Edmonton, and it’s a hub for wildfire evacuees from a number of communities.

West Fraser is one in all a number of companies supporting hearth crews and evacuees with free meals as communities band collectively to help these in want.

“We’re grateful for the various emergency responders and volunteers working across the clock to maintain folks, communities and infrastructure like our mills protected whereas preserving our forest useful resource,” mentioned Blue Ridge Lumber basic supervisor Hardeep Khun-Khun.

Grey has served up roughly 2,000 meals, all at value, sponsored by native firms. She has additionally organized a free Mom’s Day sundae bar for evacuees.

“Your coronary heart has to exit to those poor households that impulsively must uproot and take their youngsters, take their pets. They don’t know in the event that they’re going to be coming dwelling to ashes. They don’t know what’s going to occur with their city, with their job, their faculty,” Grey mentioned.

“And we might fall asleep and get up and we might face that. … So I simply suppose all of us have to face collectively and do what we are able to to assist our neighbours.”

Fox Cree evacuee Mozan Le supplied to volunteer, however Kelly Grey employed her as a substitute. (Submitted by Kelly Grey)

‘Grateful for the sacrifices’

A spokesperson for the city of Whitecourt mentioned at peak demand, the neighborhood was serving business-sponsored breakfasts and dinners for greater than 1,000 evacuees from Fox Creek, Valleyview and communities within the Municipal District of Greenview.

A type of meals was a turkey dinner placed on by Millar Western Forest Merchandise. Among the meals went to former staff of Millar, which used to function a sawmill in Fox Creek.

“Whitecourt’s a beautiful neighborhood for coming collectively and supporting each other when the chips are down, so it was good to have the ability to be part of that,” mentioned Brian McConkey, Millar vp of human sources and company affairs.

In the course of the dinner, Grey requested evacuees to write notes to firefighters. She hooked up them to lunches despatched to Fox Creek hearth crews the following day.

“I’m grateful for the sacrifices you make!” wrote one evacuee.

“I do know it’s not simple being away from household and buddies whereas placing your self in danger to assist others! Thanks!”

Thank you notes to Fox Creek firefighters
Among the thank-you notes wildfire evacuees wrote to Fox Creek firefighters. (Submitted by Kelly Grey)

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