Red Cross volunteers assist Saskatchewan families heading home

Topics: Saskatchewan, Emergencies and Disasters in Canada
July 28, 2015

Roxy and her daughters: Arielee, Avery and Hannah. Canadian Red Cross shelters in Saskatchewan emptied out last week as families got the welcome news that they could finally return home. The families were forced to leave their northern Saskatchewan communities in early July when large forest fires caused the largest evacuation in the province’s history.

“It’s a big relief to go home,” said Roxy Fontaine, a mother of three who received assistance from the Canadian Red Cross. “There really is no place like home.”

The Canadian Red Cross managed a total of seven shelters during the four-week evacuation. The shelters were located in Prince Albert, Regina, Saskatoon, in addition to Cold Lake, Alberta. Many others were also supported in hotels in each city, as well as in North Battleford.

“I’ve enjoyed spending time with these people and am so excited that some of them are able to return home,” said Deb Gander, a volunteer with the Red Cross. “There are so many smiles and hugs. A whole bus-load of people said they were going to miss me!”
As evacuation orders were lifted, the Red Cross provided bus transportation or gas cards for people driving their own vehicles home.

“It was important to provide food and water to families cleared to return home, as many had to travel for hours,” said Cindy Fuchs, provincial director of the Canadian Red Cross in Saskatchewan.

On behalf of the provincial government, the Red Cross provided emergency services to support more than 10,000 people who were evacuated from 54 northern communities in Saskatchewan. More than 350 trained Red Cross personnel supported the response effort, which spanned a total of five cities within Saskatchewan and Alberta.

The Red Cross helped to reconnect families and provided food, shelter, and other basic necessities during a very complex evacuation. None of this would have been accomplished without the trained, dedicated Red Cross volunteers that contributed in over 20,000 hours to meet  the immediate needs of individuals and families.

“Thank you to everyone who contributed your time and talent to help with this response,” said Conrad Sauvé, Canadian Red Cross President and CEO. 

“As a result of your efforts directly on the ground, supporting from a distance, or helping to maintain other projects, the Canadian Red Cross had the ability to respond quickly and effectively to assist those in need.”

As people return to their homes, the Red Cross will work closely with the provincial government and community leadership to help address any unmet needs that may arise as a result of recent wildfires.

Help make a difference in communities affected by disaster, donate to the Canadian Disaster Relief Fund today. Donations will be used to support the ongoing efforts of the Canadian Red Cross, including the development and training for volunteers to respond to future disasters or emergencies.