Early this month, a massive wild fire forced the sudden evacuation of Fort McMurray, in Alberta, Canada. The neighboring town of Lac La Biche, shown below, has less than 3,000 residents, but opened its heart to 9,000 evacuees overnight. At Squirrely's Gas Bar, employees worked 24/7 to serve evacuees. The store ran out of beef jerky and jerry cans and had to double its order of snacks and pop.
Employee Cora Schaub said many people wanted to share their experiences, so she listened as they described harrowing escapes and mourned over things they lost to the fire. "I let them release their heartache and pain," she said. "This was a very sad event in their lives." Over at Omar's Barber Shop, Omar Saleh put out a sandwich board offering free hot shaves for evacuees. He did 120 shaves in five days, so many that he ran out of straight razors and had to buy more. "They fled their houses, and the last thing you remember to take with you is your razor, so a shave makes you happy, right?" he asked. A week after the evacuation, cook Shaun Petrie had gone through 500 pounds of potatoes, cooking free meals for evacuees, emergency crews, and volunteers at the Royal Canadian Legion. His two hot meals a day included roast beef and turkey dinners, lasagna, perogies and cabbage rolls. "It's the right thing to do," he said, and everyone knows he's right.