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"Everyone comes together": Alberta fire evacuee gives back

Guest post by Shelly Makrugin, Canadian Red Cross

Audrey Redcrow is eager to return home to Fort McKay.  But she’s scared of what she may find when she gets there. Audrey, her four children, and their Siberian Husky, Diesel, were evacuated from their northern community on May 7 after the fire threatening Fort McMurray moved towards Fort McKay First Nation.

Before the voluntary evacuation of Fort McKay, thousands of Fort McMurray residents left their community and took refuge in the northern First Nations. Audrey jumped into action with the Fort McKay community volunteer team to register and assist evacuees – she had two families staying in her home as she worked 15 hours a day helping in her little community.

Audrey Redcrow, right.

The fire grew and along with it uncertainty. Audrey worked tirelessly to assist her community and evacuees, while at the same time, kept her children, aged three to 16, calm. The family was already traumatized after their home burned to the ground the year before. Diesel, only three months old at the time, alerted the family and saved their lives.

Fort McKay is a First Nations community 54 km north of Fort McMurray. It was placed under voluntary evacuation at the beginning of May when the fire known as “The Beast” threatened the area.

When the smoke became so thick it was difficult to breathe, Audrey knew it was time to leave.  She loaded her truck with her kids, Diesel, and their bags and joined the convoy south. They found help on the highway - fuel trucks and kindness. “I got out and hugged everyone,” says Audrey. “It’s amazing how everyone comes together.”

Audrey, her kids, and Diesel are now with family in Edmonton. She says the financial assistance and e-transfer from Red Cross was so helpful in buying groceries and other urgently needed supplies.

Audrey isn’t sure when they will go home. While Fort McKay hasn’t been damaged, the community relies on Fort McMurray for groceries and other supplies. Audrey says “it’s tough not knowing,” but praises her community for how it’s pulled together, saying the “First Nations have been amazing.” 
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