The Canadian Red Cross today released its two year update summarizing the relief and recovery work taking place in Alberta after a devastating wildfire in May 2016 affected more than 80,000 people in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, including Fort McMurray.
After two years, the Alberta Fires Appeal Fund has reached a total of $325 million thanks to the generous contributions from individuals, community groups and companies across Canada, including matching funds from the Government of Canada and the Government of Alberta, to help those affected by the fires. To date, the Red Cross has spent or committed $291 million, which represents 89.5 per cent of the total funds.
For the people affected by one of Canada’s largest natural disasters, needs continue to emerge over time. Out of nearly 65,000 families that registered with the Red Cross and received emergency financial assistance, more than 1,500 families continue to need assistance with their recovery.
The Red Cross recognizes that recovering from a disaster can take years and is committed to being in the Wood Buffalo region for as long as it takes to help the people affected by the fires recover at their own pace.
Collaboration among partners is essential for recovery, and the Red Cross continues to work closely with government, local community and Indigenous leaders, and other organizations to identify priorities and to avoid duplicating efforts.
The generosity of Canadians has enabled the Red Cross to have impact in the following ways:
- $232.8 million allocated; ($213 million spent and committed to date) to support individuals and families.
- To date, assistance has been provided for immediate supplies and shelter; direct financial assistance during the evacuation and throughout recovery to cover costs associated with urgent needs, transportation home, replacement of household goods, and assistance to help pay for rent, mortgage and utilities; repair and reconstruction of uninsured homes; emotional support to address the psychological well-being of people affected by the fires; and, projects to support and enhance community resiliency.
- $50 million allocated; ($40 million spent and committed to date) to support community groups and initiatives.
- 90 partnerships with community organizations have included emergency financial assistance to community groups and longer-term funding for a variety of projects and initiatives such as special events for the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo and Indigenous communities, support for the increased demand of psychological services for those impacted by the wildfires, recreation for children and youth, support to local food banks and the local homeless shelter, support for community-led wellness groups, and assistance for community celebrations during the holiday season.
- $30 million allocated; ($29 million spent and committed to date) to support eligible small businesses.
- More than 3,200 eligible small businesses received financial assistance to help cover costs such as the replacement of essential items including business tools and equipment; assistance with clean-up expenses; moving or storage; professional cleaning; small repairs; help with overdue utility bills; lease payments; and, short-term lease of business equipment or vehicles. Businesses that received assistance included: corporations (franchise and not franchised); individual/sole proprietorships; partnerships; and, other business entities. To further support eligible small businesses, the Red Cross continues to collaborate with the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo Economic Development and other community partners to explore learning and development opportunities for small business owners in the region.
The full financial summary as of March 31, 2018 can be found in the Alberta Fires Two Year Donor Update.
“The resiliency of the people affected by the fires in the Fort McMurray area two years ago is remarkable. Every person has a story to share of how their lives were impacted. Their struggles are real. Their strength is inspiring. And their circumstances are as unique as each person. The Canadian Red Cross remains present in the region and is committed to understanding, assisting, and guiding the people affected by this disaster throughout their recovery for as long as it takes.”
– Conrad Sauvé, president and CEO, Canadian Red Cross
“Every person in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo was impacted in some way by the fire that swept though Fort McMurray and area two years ago. Homes were damaged or lost, businesses needed to get back up and running, and the community supports that we relied on in times of need were severely affected. Thanks to everyone who donated through the Canadian Red Cross, our region has been able to make significant steps towards recovery. The assistance provided by the Red Cross has made, and continues to make, a difference to the people affected by the disaster. Thank you for helping us along our journey.”
– Don Scott, Mayor, Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo
- Alberta Fires appointment hotline: 1-888-553-5505
Owners or residents of damaged, destroyed, or uninhabitable property due to the Alberta Fires, or those who are in need of emotional support or guidance with their recovery are encouraged to contact the Canadian Red Cross to book a confidential appointment. Red Cross assistance will not duplicate existing support either at the provincial or municipal levels, or through insurance.
- Alberta Fires website: www.redcross.ca/albertafiresinfo
- @RedCrossCanada | facebook.com/CanadianRedCross | redcross.ca/blog
- Red Cross donor inquiries: WeCare@redcross.ca or 1-800-418-1111
About the Canadian Red Cross
Here in Canada and overseas, the Red Cross stands ready to help people before, during and after a disaster. As a member of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement – which is made up of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the International Committee of the Red Cross and 190 national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies – the Canadian Red Cross is dedicated to improving the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity in Canada and throughout the world.
SOURCE Canadian Red Cross