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Incite’s monthly blog typically focusses on an aspect of the work we do and how we help clients. But May 2023 felt very different for many Inciters.

If March came in like a lion and out like a lamb, April showers did not bring May flowers. To the contrary, May 2023 brought uncertainty, disruption and devastation to Alberta with a raging inferno that still smolders today.

More than one million hectares of land in Alberta burned in a record-breaking spring for wildfires. The Alberta Emergency Management Agency currently estimates damage to approximately 300 structures, including homes, businesses, outbuildings, commercial and other properties but ongoing assessments to evaluate the destruction.

Tinder-dry conditions, significantly higher than average daily temperatures and gusty winds sparked more than 100 active wildfires, with almost a third classified as out of control by mid-month. At the peak, more than 30,000 Albertans faced mandatory evacuation orders and scrambled to secure safety for themselves, pets and livestock.

Despite this chaos, upheaval and strain, Albertans demonstrated striking strength, resilience and support for one another during this stressful time. Though many of us felt helpless watching it unfold from so near yet so far.

One thing that came to mind as the crisis grew was how necessary plans are when facing an unprecedented situation. While it might be a safe bet that none of the leaders of communities impacted planned to spend the month of May doggedly monitoring fires, safely evacuating residents, diligently coordinating resources and carefully assessing damage, there is no question that successful emergency response requires a base level of contingency planning.

And this applies to any business. Circumstances vary for each organization but the underlying element is the need for annual strategic planning that reaffirms overall direction, evaluates challenges and opportunities, and details the path forward. Few situations facing an organization will be as significant as the 2023 wildfires in Alberta, however, discussing issues and potential outcomes prepares organizations for what lies ahead. Advance preparation gives leaders the ability to evaluate circumstances in real time, proactively manage responses and pivot as required.

It is worth asking, what are those scenarios that might require an emergency plan for our business? What are the risks, issues and potential crises? What principles will guide our response?

One of our core values at Incite is impact. Driving change moves us and motivates everything we do to create positive change for clients. While we may feel somewhat helpless in this crisis, there are things that we can do together to support firefighting efforts, evacuees and communities.

Both the provincial and federal governments will match donations made to the Canadian Red Cross 2023 Alberta Fires Appeal until June 3, 2023. This means that every $1 donated becomes $3 to support those impacted by the wildfires. Please click here if you are able to contribute.

While the crisis peaked mid-May, it is clearly not over. As of May 31, 2023, there are 66 active wildfires across the province with 18 classified as out of control. The fire danger is very high or extreme in northern Alberta. There are six evacuation orders currently in place impacting more than 3,500 Albertans.

Thank you to all those who are actively fighting the fires and working tirelessly to support Albertans and our province. We are grateful for the help and hopeful that more fires can be brought under control soon.

What a difference a month makes. Thank you for reading.