Since joining the emergency fire scene division at ASAP Secured back in 2009, I’ve seen a significant amount of buildings lost due to fires or other large disasters. The stories I’ve heard from those involved and the damage that occurred was unbelievable. Many of the fires involved three houses or multi-residential locations such as condos or apartments. There were a few occasions when the disaster took out a block or town square, but those were mostly caused by tornadoes. I have never seen a fire cause as much damage as it has in Fort McMurray.
When visiting fire sites, I am always amazed how quickly and effortlessly the community rallies to support those who were affected. People offered space in their homes, went door to door to gather food, supplies and even toys for the children who were involved. Most families didn’t have time to collect any of their belongings and only had seconds to make sure that everyone got out safely. No one ever thinks that a fire will affect them. It is important to talk with your family about a fire plan and to practice it on a regular basis.
When I heard on the news what other communities around Fort McMurray and all across Alberta were doing to help those who were evacuated, it didn’t surprise me at all. It is great to see not only a province but an entire country come together to help those in need. But there is still a lot that needs to be done. Below are some ways that each of us can contribute:
- If you want to donate to the Red Cross, you can give any amount through this link: Alberta Fires Appeal. Alternately, you can donate $5 by texting REDCROSS to 30333 or donate $10 by texting FIRES to 45678. Be careful: Some scammers are posing as the Red Cross asking for money on social media. Justin Trudeau announced that the federal government is matching all donations made to the Red Cross for the Fort McMurray Wildfires.
- If you want to donate to the Salvation Army, you can give any amount through this link: Alberta Fire Response.
- If you want to donate to Save the Children, you can give any amount through this link: Fort McMurray Emergency Wildfire.
- If you need a place to stay, or are looking to take in some evacuees, check out these Facebook groups: Fort, Fort McMurray evac relocation help group.
- Airbnb has waived all service fees for those affected by the fire, and there are already over 140 places listed on the site for free.
- Those able to house displaced people can also sign up at ymmfire.ca
- The Calgary Humane Society is taking donations; you can give here: Fundraiser in Support of Fort McMurray.
- The Edmonton Humane Society is also taking donations; you can give here: Fort McMurray Wildfire Donation form.
- Those looking to house people’s pets, help unify lost pets with owners, and generally assist with animal rescue should check out this Facebook page: Fort McMurray Fire Emergency Animal Assistance
DONATE FOOD AND ITEMS
- If you want to donate items such as blankets or clothes, check out this Facebook group: Fort Mac Fire Donations. Make sure you’re only giving things people actually need. People often donate things after a disaster that aren’t needed, and sometimes actually get in the way of vital supplies.
- Edmonton Emergency Relief Services is collecting new shoes, towels, socks, underwear, diapers, baby wipes, and toiletries. Drop off items at: Hangar 2: 3631 – 56 Ave East, Edmonton International Airport.
- Edmonton’s Food Bank is collecting donations. Food can be dropped off at any major grocery store or fire hall.
- The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo is inviting volunteers to sign up here.
- Edmonton Emergency Relief Services is looking for volunteers (must be 16 or older) at a number of locations throughout Edmonton. Volunteers are particularly needed at the airport, as that location is running 24-7. Follow their Facebook page: Edmonton Emergency Relief Services Society, for the latest updates.
- Those interested in volunteering with the Red Cross can sign up here.
*Source: Macleans “Want to Help Fort McMurray? Here’s How.” – Zane Schwartz http://www.macleans.ca/news/canada/want-to-help-those-fleeing-fort-mcmurray-heres-how/