One year ago, we were coming to grips with the disaster unfolding in Fort McMurray and the surrounding area. The scope and scale of the wildfire was unlike anything we had faced before. Today, we look back at how the generosity of Canadians has brought help and hope to the residents of Fort McMurray, and how that help will continue in the months and years to come.
As a tragedy unfolds, Canada comes together in solidarity
As a wildfire threatens Fort McMurray and surrounding areas, a local state of emergency is declared.
The fire intensifies and spreads rapidly. A mass evacuation order for Fort McMurray is issued and residents rush to flee the city. The Canadian Red Cross begins to register evacuees and starts receiving donations from Canadians.
With the wildfire raging out of control, the province of Alberta declares a state of emergency. Red Cross cots, blankets and other shelter supplies arrive in Edmonton to support evacuation shelters there, as well as in Calgary and Lac La Biche.
Donations to the Red Cross continue to pour in from across Canada and around the world. From coast to coast, thousands of Red Cross volunteers and workers mobilize to support a massive operation. The Red Cross begins to distribute cash cards in Calgary and Edmonton to help evacuees meet their immediate needs, such as food, clothing and gas, and provide emotional support.
Thanks to overwhelming support, the Red Cross announces $50 million in immediate financial assistance. In just one day, more than $30 million was sent to 28,000 households in need of help.
With the threat of the wildfire contained, the Government of Alberta announces that evacuees can begin to return to their communities on June 1. The Red Cross allocates $40 million to help residents with costs of returning home. This includes flights and buses, as well as financial assistance for households.
Red Cross volunteers are at the airport to welcome the first wave of returning residents. They provide emotional support, clean-up materials, water, vouchers and information at eight reception centres set up around the city. This assistance continues throughout the summer.
As more residents return, demand for community services increases significantly. The Red Cross announces $50 million to support community organizations and works alongside local partners to identify and meet needs.
Entrepreneurs and small business owners continue to assess the damage and impact on their operations. In partnership with the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo and Economic Developers Alberta, the Red Cross launches a small business hotline and announces emergency financial support to help support eligible businesses with initial clean-up costs.
To be able to meet face-to-face with returning residents, the Red Cross opens its first office in Fort McMurray.
Thousands of Fort McMurray residents continue to face housing and financial struggles. The Red Cross begins providing financial assistance to help individuals and families pay for housing.
The Red Cross announces a second round of funding to help eligible small businesses cover losses and re-open their doors after the wildfires.
Six months after the disaster, the Red Cross has already spent more than $178 million to directly assist those impacted by the fires. Individuals, families, community partners and small business owners continue to meet with the Red Cross to receive help and referrals for ongoing supports from community groups. This work continues today.
Through the smoke
How you helped give one family a new start