Mel Angelstad, a firefighter for Suncor Energy, says the Fort Mc Murray wildfire was emotionally tough.'Every single friend that you had had either a friend or family member lose their house and all their memories that went with it.' (Kyle Bakx/CBC) Angelstad is not one to be unnerved easily.He was a tough-guy hockey enforcer known as The Mangler when he played in the minor leagues and even in the NHL.But even professionals trained to face tough, unpredictable challenges found the scale of the destruction too much.Oilsands workers not only faced uncertainty about their homes and families, but also about their jobs.Several oilsands plants shut down because of the fire threat, like Syncrude's Mildred Lake mine.The site was completely evacuated and no one knew when it would restart.
In the last twelve months since the disaster, oilsands companies have also done a lot to help alleviate any ongoing mental health woes experienced by people in the broader community as well.Imperial Oil, for instance, donated ,000 to the local chapter of the Canadian Mental Health Association to purchase 180 "Heart Math" kits for Grade 5 and 6 students in Fort Mc Murray.The program helps kids monitor their anxiety and change their breathing habits to help them relax.Canadians continue to show remarkable kindness to the Fort Mc Refugees.The Red Cross is swimming in cash (much of which they have already distributed) and donation centres are overflowing with donations.Charitable organizations are operating with remarkable efficiency, and even the government seems to be doing everything right. The government finally allowed the media to see Fort Mc Murray in a tightly prescribed tour.The media was ordered around like children at a kindergarten.Incredibly, anyone entering the area was forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement, resulting in the ludicrous scene of a nurse telling the assembled media “no comment” to a question about what she saw. The government’s clampdown on information on Fort Mc Murray is ludicrous, and entirely unnecessary.When facts are lacking, rumours rush in, particularly in the Twitter age.I read that the RCMP detachments were destroyed; not true. It seems to me that there was no central clearing house of information from the tight-lipped government that would have killed the rumours before they started.While most everything else about the government’s response to this calamity has been stellar, their information distribution has been a fiasco. the fire chief there, Darby Allen, has been much praised for his work. But does he deserve the ‘OUR HERO’ headline in the Friday Sun?