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Family evacuated from Fort McMurray finds comfort with Red Cross

Guest post by Tracie Moore, Canadian Red Cross 

Waking up from a mid-afternoon nap on a warm spring day, Suda Wylie opened her eyes and was thrust into a nightmare. The sky was burning orange outside of their Fort McMurray apartment. She and her husband Philip had heard reports on the news earlier in the day, but were positive that the fire fighters had it under control. Just like all the other times wildfire had threatened the remote northern Alberta city.

But, today, it was too close for comfort. Grabbing some camping bedding and a few things for the baby, they decided it would be best to leave town for a few days.

As they started driving out of town, the reality of what lay ahead of them started to become apparent. “A tree exploded next to us,” Philip recalls. “Our favourite restaurant, Denny's, was gone, just burning as we drove by.”

The fire was so hot that trees would burst into flame without having been touched by flame or spark.

With their 13 month-old daughter strapped into the back seat and fire raging all around their little Nissan, they made the smoky journey out of the city they called home. A quick decision had them heading south to Anzac, where they heard a shelter had been set up. At 2 a.m. they pulled up to the centre, tired and disheveled and just looking for a place to rest. But, that was not to be. Not even four hours after they arrived, the little family was once again on the road. Anzac was being evacuated. The fire, still raging out of control, was threatening the small town and the shelter was no longer safe.

So, they made there way further south to Lac La Biche, a small town about four hours from Fort McMurray. On the way, they made sure to register with the Red Cross. And, when they arrived at the Bold Centre in Lac La Biche, the Wylie family was greeted with the coordinated response of the Government of Alberta, the people of Lac La Biche, and a team of Red Cross volunteers working tirelessly to help the Wylies and so many others like them.

“I don’t care what part of the world you’re at – Red Cross is here to help you.” Philip says. “And the Red Cross helped us.”

Thanks to the generous outpouring of support from donors around the world, Canadian Red Cross was able to provide immediate financial assistance to people evacuated from the Fort McMurray wildfires. People in need, just like the Wylie family.

“Not just financially,” Suda interjects. “But everything to give us comfort during this difficult time.” Philip added, “There are no words to explain how thankful we are. I’ve never been in this situation and I’m humbled.” 

Canadians wishing to make a donation are encouraged to do so by donating to the Alberta Fires Appeal online or by calling 1-800-418-1111. All individual donations are being matched by the Government of Canada, between May 3 and May 31, 2016.
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