By Treena Mielke
The community of Rimbey watched in horror as they watched their northern neighbour engulfed in a rain of fire that caused a mass exit of people, taking their beloved pets and a few cherished photos with them.
But, true to form, the people of Rimbey didn’t stand by and watch for long.
Being a farming community who is used to getting things done, that’s exactly what they did.
They pitched in.
Mayor Rick Pankiw is one of those people.
Pankiw has spent the last several days at the arena, first organizing food and supplies to be sent to the victims in trailers.
The last few days he has worked with FCSS, individuals and local service clubs to ensure food, trailers and camping spaces are available for Fort McMurray victims.
As of Thursday more than 100 people from Fort McMurray have signed in at the arena and several families are camped at The Nesting Place and RV Heaven.
Today, (Thursday), May 12, he is telling the public to hold off on donations of food, clothing and supplies.
“No more donations,” he said. “We are good.”
Pankiw said he is simply overwhelmed by the support the people of Rimbey and area have shown.
“It is a great community. I am proud to call Rimbey home.”
It just so happens that it wasn’t that many years ago the mayor was proud to call another community home.
And that community was Fort McMurray.
He moved to Fort McMurray on 1982 to play junior hockey and he and his wife Sue spent several years there.
Now, he finds himself becoming quite emotional when he watches the news clips of the fire burning at Fort McMurray.
“It’s very emotional,” he said. “I’ve quit watching it, I just can’t.”
Pankiw said he found Fort McMurray to be a close-knit community.
“People in Fort McMurray would give you the shirt off their back. They really would. I loved Fort McMurray.”