Discovery is debuting Fort Mac Wildfire: Rogue Earth, a doc that uses news footage and real-life interviews to show one of the country’s most costliest natural disasters: the wildfires that took place in Fort MacMurray almost a year ago. Lisa Hilsenteger, the principal of a school who bussed out a load of kids to bring them to safety, offered CraveOnline viewers a glimpse into her harrowing experience and how the city is still recovering from the effects of this truly terrible event.
Fort Mac Wildfire: Rogue Earth airs tonight on Discovery,
CraveOnline: Where did you go with the students when you were told to evacuate?
Lisa Hilsenteger: We went north. The biggest concern was going to be finding a place where we can meet that all parents would have access to. We thought we had a logical spot going north, but by the time we got there they’d evacuated there as well, so we went further north. We ended up at one of the plants – what is normally a 45-minute journey took us about eight hours. And we were finding parents along the way. At 1:30 in the morning we heard that the road had opened so we were better off to head south so we did.
Do you think the city was prepared for a natural disaster like this?
We were all well-prepared for evacuating our own buildings, and we were well prepared to evacuate a city on a whim suddenly, I think because of where we live. We all have that sense of safety because of the nature of the business that we do here, so we were prepared in one way. But having one road in and out of the city can be worrisome, so that has also come up: talk about how do we build another route, because obviously this is not going to happen overnight.
As a school we looked at how we can contact parents quicker and now there are some apps that we can put on our phones to have more access to information quicker.
What has been the reaction of the city since this experience?
Everybody is still experiencing the effects of it in a different way. You bring your life back to a sense of normal. But some are still displaced and rebuilding their homes.