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Red Cross volunteers from near and far helping those affected by Alberta fires



Need help with gas? Have a question about your accommodation? Don’t worry. Volunteers with Canadian Red Cross are ready, well-trained and able to help with hundreds of concerns raised daily by people forced to flee the Alberta wildfires.

Already, 1,100 Red Cross volunteers and staff from across Canada are working in evacuation centres and offices, on the phones, and out in communities where evacuees are waiting and hoping to go home to the Fort McMurray region. Recently, about 50 volunteers from the American Red Cross were also added to the ranks in Alberta.

In Calgary, where several thousand evacuees are now located, a helpful trio dubbed the “three AmCross amigos”, are working at the Red Cross evacuation centre set up at SAIT (Southern Alberta Institute of Technology), where about 375 evacuees are staying in student residences.

The three AmCross amigosRobert Bryan flew in from Albuquerque, New Mexico, when he got the deployment call. Dan Crane arrived from Phoenix, Arizona, and Cliff Haynes came from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The three amigos (pictured from left to right: Dan, Cliff, and Robert; photo courtesy of J. Keith Howie) in their distinctive American Red Cross vests worked all day at SAIT, patiently listening and helping people with a wide range of problems. Some evacuees received vouchers for groceries, gas or prescription medicines. Others wanted to know about registering with Red Cross.

“The questions we get are as varied as the people,” said Bryan, an engineer and volunteer for two years. “But that’s what I really like about Red Cross. We help people with their immediate needs and we help everybody, no matter what.”

Crane agreed. “The number one thing that I like about Red Cross is our neutrality. We will always help everyone.” A volunteer for five years, Crane said he signed up the day after his son graduated from college. “I had time and I just wanted to help,” he said simply. Since then, he has worked on about six disasters, including floods in South Carolina, wildfires in California, and Texas flooding. The Alberta wildfires operation is Crane’s first international deployment. Haynes just signed up with American Red Cross last year. The trio expect to help out here for about three weeks.

“It’s always interesting work. You do a little bit of everything, and you help all sorts of people. That’s what we’re trained for, and it’s really rewarding,” said Crane with a smile. “Anyway, I’ve got these great guys to work with. So it’s all good.”

Since the Alberta wildfires triggered the largest fire-related evacuation in provincial history, Red Cross personnel have worked non-stop to help people affected by the disaster. The outpouring of support from Canadians has been tremendous, and $100 million has been donated so far to the Red Cross Alberta Fires AppealRecently, Canadian Red Cross launched the largest and fastest distribution of immediate financial assistance, totalling $50 million, so evacuees can buy what they urgently need.

American Red Cross Volunteers
Approximately 50 volunteers from the American Red Cross arrived recently to support those affected by the Alberta fires.
Welcoming evacuees
Welcoming evacuees at the Lister Centre in Edmonton.
Psychosocial support
Specially trained volunteers are also providing comfort and care to those who have suffered emotional trauma.
Reception volunteers in Edmonton
Volunteers in the reception area at the Lister Centre in Edmonton.
Red Cross staff and volunteers
More than 1,100 Red Cross volunteers and staff are on the ground in Alberta.
Red Cross volunteer
We appreciate all our volunteers giving their time and efforts to helping others.
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