Canadian Red Cross volunteer responders provide aid at New Brunswick derailment

Topics: Emergencies and Disasters in Canada
February 03, 2014

Canadian Red Cross volunteer responders provide aid at New Brunswick derailment

At any moment, Canadian Red Cross volunteers and staff are on hand to respond to emergencies and disasters throughout the country. On January 7, 2014, a train derailment in New Brunswick brought 17 Red Cross personnel to the aid of more than 100 people in the area. They provided assistance in a community centre in Plaster Rock for five days, making sure that evacuees had everything they needed.

The train had several petroleum tanks that caught on fire when it derailed. This resulted in the evacuations of more than 100 people from about 45 homes within a 2-kilometre radius of the site of the incident. The Red Cross responded in a matter of hours, offering 24-hour reception, registration and information services for residents who were waiting for their neighbourhood to be declared safe once again.

Response team gets people the supplies they need
Along with keeping this round-the-clock response centre staffed, Red Cross personnel helped prepare and deliver 400 meals, over 40 fuel gift cards and lots of bottled water (provided by CN Rail). This was particularly important since private water wells had to be tested in the area before it could be confirmed that they had not been contaminated by the fire. 

"Our team also set up one room as a shelter with cots, blankets and other supplies," said Marc Belliveau, Canadian Red Cross disaster management associate from Moncton who coordinated the operation on-site in Plaster Rock. 

By the time the evacuation was over, the Red Cross had provided 481 hours of service. The shelter provided an important purpose for the residents. Sparse motel availability in the area meant individuals from several different response teams needed a temporary place to stay. Of course, the work of non-profit relief organizations is never done. Once the train derailment was under control, unseasonably mild temperatures mixed with heavy rain brought about snow melt and an increased risk of flooding, highlighting the importance of staying prepared. 

Already this winter, Canadian Red Cross volunteers have made an enormous difference across the country, whether responding to power outages, ice storms or train derailments. You, too, can make a difference. Contact the Canadian Red Cross today to find out how to volunteer or to donate!

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