Perspective. It’s something we all lose at one time or another. Depending on what our hot buttons are, we can also completely lose sight of the facts. In today’s world we jump quickly to what went wrong with a horrible situation and aren’t too grateful sometimes about what went right. Especially when that situation is a disaster.
Social media is guilty of giving everyone the opportunity to express an opinion (which is a good thing sometimes and sometimes not). We latch onto any situation and turn it into a political playground or a conspiracy. We often play a game called, “In the good ole days things were better.” If you look at the facts, there might be some things that were, but there are usually an equal amount of things that were absolutely not.
Last week an enormous wildfire scorched parts of Alberta Canada and caused damage to Fort McMurray. Today, I’m putting some of that in perspective. So far we know that:
Two people perished in car accidents during the evacuation of Fort McMurray. On the first day of the evacuation (probably more like two days) around 88,000 people escaped a fire that was so quick, so hot and so dangerous there was every reason to think some people wouldn’t have escaped it. I think the fact they did escape it is a miracle worth celebrating. As of this blog date I’ve heard that somewhere between 85 to 90 percent of the town escaped destruction. Around 2,600 buildings were destroyed. The fact that the downtown area and the hospital were saved is also incredible. Despite the horrendous situation, that’s a real sign of hope for the people who want to return to the area. It’s also a true testament to how modern conveniences saved so many lives and so many buildings.
People were warned by way of emergency systems, cell phones and landline. Aerial firefighting equipment such as planes and helicopters helped save the town.
These are modern things that made it possible for thousands upon thousands of people to escape. In the past, in the good ole days, can you imagine how much different this disaster would have unfolded? (Look up the Peshtigo Fire of 1871 as an example).
In some ways it is difficult to compare the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire to what happened at Fort McMurray. The 3,000 to 5,000 deaths that occurred in San Francisco are a mixed bag from combining the earthquake and fire. What I do know is that in the good ole days you were more at the mercy of whatever Mother Nature decided to throw at you. Well, okay, sometimes there isn’t anything you can do today if Mother Nature decides it is time to kick ass and take names.
Back in 1906 there were no cell phones, few landlines, not enough firefighting equipment (and not the type of equipment we have now). On that day and for as long as the fires lasted in San Francisco, about 28,000 buildings were destroyed. The limitations of 1906 were tremendous.
Disasters are always hard to compare. But I think one thing we can do is remember that in the good ole days there was a lot we didn’t have that we have now. So for every bad thing that happens today, I think a bit of perspective is a very good thing, don’t you? I am very grateful for so much.