Community Projects Fund restores morale following northern Alberta wildfires

Topics: Alberta, Emergencies and Disasters in Canada
August 29, 2012

Community Projects Fund restores morale following Northern Alberta Wildfires

The massive wildfires that swept through central and northern Alberta in 2011 left a path of destruction in their wake, decimating the town of Slave Lake and forcing approximately 7,000 people to abandon their homes and seek shelter in safer areas.

While this devastating natural disaster - which is the largest in Alberta's history - happened over a year ago, the Canadian Red Cross continues to supply vital aid to those who were impacted by the emergency.
As of May 2012, the Canadian Red Cross has raised $5.5 million through generous donor support to the Northern Alberta Wildfires Fund.

For individuals impacted by the emergency, the fund has provided a much-needed layer of support. Approximately $770,000 was used for direct aid to cover food, clothing, rent, mortgage payments, damage deposits, utilities and more. In addition, approximately $400,000 was applied to rent and renovation projects to the Slave Lake interim library, while $800,000 has been used for a range of local projects within Slave Lake.

In April, the Canadian Red Cross launched the Northern Alberta Wildfires Community Projects Fund, which offered $2 million in funding to community leaders from towns affected by the wildfires and subsequent flooding. The initiative targets the rebuilding and recovery process, and may be used to support community development projects, community events and individual efforts to help families who were heavily impacted by the emergency.

In order to qualify for funding through the program, projects had to meet certain criteria. They needed to address health or safety concerns or benefit the public good.

The Northern Alberta Wildfires Community Projects Fund is intended to hasten the recovery of these devastated towns through community-oriented endeavors. Most importantly, the fund aims to improve the quality of life for impacted individuals and allow them to gain valuable disaster emergency preparedness skills in case of future incidents.

A committee including Canadian Red Cross volunteers and community leaders selected 23 programs based on their perceived contribution to the town and the service they would provide to vulnerable persons.
The projects vary in scope, including such fun-filled activities as Family Fun Night and Art with a Heart, which offers unique artwork to families who lost a home in the incident. Other projects like a Mental Health Initiative, Community Kitchen and Student Hot Lunch Program aim to improve the physical and emotional well-being of community members.

Throughout this trying period, the Red Cross strives to improve the lives of people who lost their homes, possessions and livelihood as a result of the emergency. A permanent office has been established in Slave Lake to assist in ongoing recovery operations. Individuals who have experienced emotional strain or financial hardship as a result of the wildfires should reach out to the Red Cross office in Slave Lake to learn more about ways that the organization can help.

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