By Jocelyn Edwards

jessica_460-2-min.jpgFor long-time Fort McMurray resident Jessica Weber, it was a surreal experience returning to the home where she had grown up after last May’s devastating fire. Fire crews weren’t able to reach the house, which was on an acreage that had been in her family for three generations.

“A lot of my flowers and my garden were coming up. There were butterflies that had landed on the rubble, and all the birds were out. It was such a stark contrast with all the black, charred trees,” says Jessica.

There was, she explains, “a very harrowing sense of loss.”

“That house had been a source of permanence for my family since the 60s, with all the changes Fort McMurray had gone through.”

Several of Jessica’s extended family members lived in the area, and between them, the family lost five homes.

Jessica credits the Red Cross with helping her and her family rebuild their lives in the aftermath of the fire.


In the days immediately following the disaster, financial assistance from the Red Cross allowed them to purchase food and clothing. Since then, the Red Cross also provided support for Jessica’s university tuition for the school year and helped her secure secure a rental home in Calgary.

Without the support of the Red Cross, “I’m not sure what I would have done,” says Jessica.

jessica_460-min-(1).jpgWhen she returned to school in Calgary last fall, Jessica’s experience with the Red Cross prompted her to seek out a way to give back. She is currently serving as a volunteer with the Red Cross Health Equipment Loan Program in Calgary.

“It was the human aspect the Red Cross brought to [its work] in Fort McMurray that led me to volunteer with them,” she says.

Jessica’s family is one of the 65,000 families who have registered to receive support from the Canadian Red Cross after last year’s wildfire. For more information and stories on how donations are helping those impacted by the 2016 Alberta Fires, read our one-year donor report.