Canadian Red Cross Hygiene Kit

Date / Period
Lac-Mégantic, Quebec
Object Type
Disaster Management

July 6, 2013 was an important day in the history of the community of Lac-Mégantic; one that people will not soon forget. An unattended freight train derailed, driving the train into the downtown core of the town. The fire was immense. Train cars exploded in the immediate aftermath of the crash. People in the path of the out-of-control train were killed. The destruction was widespread, with many of the buildings destroyed immediately or destroyed later due to contamination. It was the worst train derailment in Canada in nearly 150 years. 

The eyes of communities across Québec, across Canada and across the world were on Lac-Mégantic. The response was immediate, with donations and offers of assistance flowing into the community. 

The town itself had been forever changed by this disaster. The people of Lac-Mégantic, however, were resilient. With the support of Canadians that had been moved by what they had seen in the community, Lac Mégantic began the process of re-building their community. 

The tragedy here is marked by one of the many emergency preparedness supplies that you hope you will never need – a hygiene kit. This is designed to help with very basic needs when someone has suffered a personal disaster, or, in this case, when a community has collectively suffered a disaster. Replacing what you need each and every day to have even a sense of comfort, the hygiene kit was one of many items distributed to members of the Lac-Mégantic community in the immediate aftermath of this disaster. 

The story of Lac Mégantic and the Red Cross does not end there. Generous donors helped to support the rebuilding of the community in several, integral ways. Over 3,000 people were assisted by the Red Cross as a result of this tragedy. Workers and students who had lost their jobs found economic support. Self-employed people and business owners who had lost their livelihoods similarly were supported by the Red Cross. But the assistance was not merely financial, it was also emotional. Over 100 families grieved the loss of loved ones while 32 children had lost one or both parents as a result of this train derailment. Volunteers were on the ground immediately and during the recovery to support the needs of the community.

The train derailment that changed the future of Lac-Mégantic will not soon stray from our consciousness. Neither the disaster nor the resiliency of a community that had suffered so much will be easily forgotten. 

Canadian Red Cross Hygiene Kit

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