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Fort McMurray evacuee expresses gratitude for support

Guest post by Jason Small, Canadian Red Cross

For a Fort McMurray resident who watched the forest fire quickly invade his neighbourhood before he fled to Winnipeg, the assistance of the Canadian Red Cross has been both helpful and reaffirming.

Jared Sabovitch“This whole experience beyond confirmed my faith in the Red Cross. It just reassured me that not only is the Red Cross real, but it is a completely valuable resource to people in need and the support has been just overwhelming,” said Jared Sabovitch, whose home was destroyed by the fire. He spent more than a month in Winnipeg with family before heading back to Fort McMurray on June 15 to stay with his father.

Sabovitch talked about how much the aid from the Red Cross meant in helping him deal with the disaster.

“I remember I got an email with some money from the Red Cross and I was stunned,” said Sabovitch. “It was the first time I got to see where the money went. It made me realize that this is something that is real and I am glad that I have donated to it in the past.”

He said that when he was at stores in Winnipeg and saw someone donating to the Red Cross, he thanked them. He would tell them, “‘It actually goes somewhere, it actually is useful. Your dollar actually makes a difference.’”

He wants people to realize how important it is to give to the Red Cross to help Canadians facing disasters.

“It was just really inspiring to see that it is something that is there to help the people,” he said. “This is one of the best ways you can really help your fellow Canadians.”

Sabovitch can still clearly remember the afternoon of May 3, when he woke up from a nap and, within 45 minutes, a controlled situation became a frantic evacuation as wildfires entered his neighbour and eventually destroyed his home.

The Fort McMurray resident and night-shift worker had read in the morning that there was no evacuation order, so he didn’t think there was anything to worry about when he took a nap, even choosing to hold off getting gas for his vehicle until later.

When he was awakened at 2:30 p.m. by his ringing phone, Sabovitch found out people in other parts of the city were being evacuated from their homes. He went outside and it was like a scene from The Walking Dead – virtually no one was around. When he tried to go downtown to get gas, he saw the mass line-up of vehicles as Fort McMurray residents desperately tried to get out of town.

“It was just like an apocalypse – people driving on the sidewalks, people driving on the grass.”

As he was packing up at home, he drawn by a startling scream from a woman outside who was carrying her child and running down the street. She was being chased by giant embers floating into the neighbourhood as the fire was very quickly moving closer.

“Essentially, (it was) just raining fire.” That is when he quickly packed up and left, just 45 minutes after waking up.

Jared at the local Red Cross officeAfter spending several hours at a workplace north of Fort McMurray, Sabovitch and some friends headed south to Edmonton. He spent a couple days there, which is when he learned his house had burned down, Sabovitch decided to come to Winnipeg to stay with family and friends.

During his time in Winnipeg, he received help at the local Canadian Red Cross office and made sure the team there knew how much he appreciated the assistance.

Before leaving the Red Cross office in Winnipeg and heading back to Fort McMurray, he was handed a Red Cross teddy bear by volunteer Chris Kepron.

“It’s going to go on my mantle in my new place, hopefully,” Sabovitch said. 
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