In May 2016, a devastating wildfire in Alberta forced the evacuation of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, which includes all of the residents in Fort McMurray. More than 80,000 people were forced to seek safety and shelter away from their homes. The Canadian Red Cross was on the ground early to help provide assistance throughout the month-long evacuation and after people returned home. Two years later, the Red Cross remains in the region and is committed to helping the people who were impacted recover at their own pace.

Thanks to the generosity of more than one million Canadians, and matching funds from the Government of Alberta and the Government of Canada, the appeal has reached $325 million to help  the people affected by the fires. To date, $291 million  has been spent or committed, as the work continues.
In addition to the initial emergency assistance provided to everyone who registered with the Red Cross after evacuating the region, more than 16,000 families have also received additional assistance to help meet their needs with recovery; this includes help with rent or mortgage payments, utilities, repair and reconstruction support, and help replacing household goods.

years ago : damages in Abasand neighbourhood
2 years ago : damages in Abasand neighbourhood. Credit: RMWB
Abasand neighbourhood, April 2018
Today: Gerry Gushue out for a walk with Fog the dog in the Abasand neighbourhood of Fort McMurray. New buildings stretch into the distance behind him as the rebuilding and recovery of the community continues two years after the fires.
Abasand neighbourhood
2 years ago : damages in Abasand neighbourhoo. Credit: RMWB
 Abasand neighbourhood, April 2018
Today: Construction is underway at the Abasand neighbourhood in Fort McMurray. Two years after the fire and the community continues to recovery and rebuild.
2 years ago : damages in Abasand neighbourhood
2 years ago : damages in Abasand neighbourhood. Credit: RMWB


When needed, this assistance has also included referrals to other community services.  A disaster such as this can have lasting affects. So far, more than 10,000 people have been comforted through mental health and psychosocial programming.

An important part of rebuilding resilient communities is through providing support to local businesses. Over 3,000 eligible small businesses also received assistance to help with their immediate needs after returning to the community.

Through the Community Organizations Partnership Program, the Red Cross has provided funding through 90 partnerships with community organizations to help provide services to assist people and the entire community with recovery from the wildfire.

The Red Cross has also worked with local Indigenous organizations to enhance culturally-appropriate support structures and programs. To date, more than 5,000 people have attended recovery events that were held by Indigenous communities and supported by the Red Cross. 

When a disaster like this happens, its impacts are long-lasting and far-reaching. Out of the nearly 65,000 families who registered with the Canadian Red Cross two years ago, more than 1,500 families continue to need support with their recovery. The Red Cross understands that needs continue to emerge over time, and it is why we are committed to remaining in the region as it continues to recover.

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