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No time limit on rebuilding lives after a disaster

The signs of hope, strength and recovery are everywhere now when I visit Fort McMurray and the surrounding region in northern Alberta. It’s been slightly more than nine months since wildfires wiped out so much for so many there, and when I talk with people in Wood Buffalo, I still hear their struggles. But increasingly, I also hear more optimism.

Through the Smoke – A Fort McMurray Family’s Evacuation Story

The unthinkable happened one day for Sheila and Shannon Champion and their son. The rest of the country watched in disbelief through various news mediums, as wildfires threatened the city of Fort McMurray. The Champion family, along with approximately 88,000 other residents, were forced from their home, facing the uncertainty of not knowing if they would ever be able to return. 
 

Emotional toll: Responding to all needs after the Alberta fires

The wildfires that ravaged many areas of the northern Alberta community last May were an extremely stressful experience for many people. In the first weeks after the evacuation, besides responding to the basic needs of Fort McMurray evacuees, the Red Cross also deployed a Safety and Well Being Team with expertise in Psychological First Aid.
 

No request too small for Canadian Red Cross

The Canadian Red Cross receives many calls for assistance, but this call, from one of the evacuees from the Alberta Fires in May, was a bit different.
Kim Matchem contacted the Red Cross for a teddy bear. Kim was eight months pregnant with her daughter Tenley when she was evacuated from Fort McMurray. 

Red Cross helps family after losing three homes in Alberta fires

In the spring of 2016, Leonie Bree says she was happily in the process of starting her own business, and she and her husband had recently bought a home in the neighbourhood of Abasand. Her daughters, Vanessa and Katrena, who were starting their own families, had also just bought homes in Beacon Hill and Waterways. However, that all changed after wildfires swept through the city in May, forcing the family to evacuate. Unfortunately, all three homes were lost to the flames.

Volunteer admires the power of community in disaster responses

Brenna Brown is a Disaster Management volunteer with the Canadian Red Cross. She was most recently involved in the Alberta Fires response, setting up emergency reception centres and shelters in Calgary and Edmonton to provide services for the thousands of evacuees from Fort McMurray and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.

Red Cross helps families recover from the unexpected

When you live in Northern Alberta, the threat of forest fires is something you get used to. 
“I didn’t initially realize how severe it was,” said 29-year-old Jessica Masse, a resident of Fort McMurray. “Earlier that day, I was playing outside with my daughter and my mother-in-law. The skies were blue,” Jessica recalled. But in just hours the blue skies had disappeared – and were replaced with smoke.

A poem to move forward from the Alberta fires

When Peter Derban visited the Red Cross office in Fort McMurray, he shared a poem written about his experiences during the Alberta fires. Through his poetry, he is sure to give credit where credit is due.
 
‘Fire department in Fort Mac like angels work hard, all day and night.
They are tired, won’t give up. Evil flames they fight, nonstop.”

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The purpose of this blog, quite simply, is to talk. This blog is an opportunity for Red Cross staff, volunteers, supporters and friends to share stories about what is happening in your community and the important work you are doing. It is a tool that will help keep all of us connected.

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