The fire was a year ago. Why aren't things back to normal?

It’s been a year since massive wildfires forced the residents of Fort McMurray and surrounding communities to evacuate. People left their homes and community, not knowing what would happen next.

In the days and months that followed, we saw an incredible outpouring of support from across Canada. And throughout the past year we have seen just how resilient the people in the Fort McMurray area are. But, as many are aware, the work is not yet over.

This can make a person wonder...

It’s been a year; why aren’t things back to normal?

The short answer is that recovery from disasters takes time, usually years.
This can be a pretty frustrating answer, because we’d like for life to quickly get back to the way it was.

So why does recovery take so long?

Following a disaster, the Red Cross works to meet the immediate and urgent needs of those impacted. This includes things like temporary shelter, medical care, food and essential items. Every disaster is different, so the services and care offered by the Red Cross depend on the needs which have been identified.

In this case, one of the first things the Red Cross did was register evacuees, and provide temporary shelter. But, this was just the beginning.

Every community is different, so the support needed to recover is also different. In the fires, many people lost their homes and businesses suffered due to lost incomes during the evacuation and damage due to the fires.

These losses take time to recover from. For example, a business might require repairs or restocking of goods because they were damaged or destroyed. As individuals recover, they might take longer to return to their community, and support local businesses. As basic as this all sounds, it shows some of the complex layers to recovery and how time and money are both required to get back to normal.

The good news is that businesses and community members are recovering. The Red Cross is helping by providing assistance to individuals and families, community organizations, and small businesses.

It’s been a year; how is there still money left?

There was unprecedented generosity shown by Canadians when it came to donating money following the evacuation. The amount raised enabled Red Cross to not only provide immediate assistance, but to actively help the people in the Fort McMurray area recover for as long as it may take.
It takes months, even years, to get the full picture of how a community has been impacted and what support is needed to rebuild a resilient community.

When the mandatory evacuation order in Fort McMurray was lifted, the Red Cross helped with re-entry support and assistance. Things like cleaning kits, money needed to buy essentials, and help getting home.  Again, this didn’t represent all the money that had been donated because the recovery had only just begun.

The Canadian Red Cross continued to assist people with things like housing support and additional financial assistance. Financial support was also provided to eligible small businesses to help them recover, and to community organizations like the Wood Buffalo Food Bank that are specialized in providing the kind of support that the community needs.

Needs  emerge over time and the Red Cross is committed to working with the people impacted by these fires for as long as needed to help them recover.

Our one-year donor report shows how donations have been spent over the past year to helpthose affected by the disaster.

A sign says "safe, resilient, together" in Fort McMurrayIt’s been a year; why don’t I feel okay yet?

There’s really no “normal” way to respond to trauma, so there’s no normal amount of time for a person to feel okay after something traumatic happens. Recovery from a disaster takes time and the process for recovery is as unique as the individual who experienced it.

If you’re struggling, there is help available to you – learn more here

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