Fort McMurray: how to help

*video from Global News YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChLtXXpo4Ge1ReTEboVvTDg*

Sitting with me ever so heavily this week are the residents of Fort McMurray who have been displaced due to a horrendous wildfire that has decimated the area and continues to rage south today due to changing weather patterns.  Over 80 000 residents have had to flee their hometown after a mandatory evacuation was posted, and the city had declared a state of emergency.  The fire raged beside the highway on which people drove to flee the flames; the city soon was out of fuel to help residents escape, leaving some stranded on the highway, awaiting a refuel.  Some have sought refuge in evacuation camps, and many are now heading for the city of Edmonton as the fire continues to move.

I have never experienced a natural disaster, only what we see and hear on the news and from our friends and family.  I cannot begin to imagine the fear of such an event, and all of the unknowns that people are now dealing with.  I have had extensive conversations about this with colleagues, family, and my husband this week; what would we do, what if the fire blocked the highways, how do we make sure our friends and family are safe too?  My heart just aches for the families, individuals, and furry friends affected.

There are ways you can help, even from far away.  This has affected our country as a whole, and even if you are one, two, or however many provinces over, there are still ways you can help these families.

An article on CBC News has outlined these outreach opportunities:

*Information shared from CBC website/article: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/events/fort-mcmurray-how-to-help-donate-1.3566391 updated on May 4, 2016.*

Canadian Red Cross

The Red Cross has set up an emergency ‘Alberta Fires’ appeal. You can also text REDCROSS to 30333 to make a $5 donation. Please call the Red Cross for family reunification 1-888-350-6070.

YMMFire.ca

This site aims to help pair Albertans able to open their homes, rental properties, recreational properties, and other available space to people in need of somewhere to stay.

Edmonton Emergency Relief Services

Edmonton Emergency Relief Services are putting out a call for donations and volunteers. Specifically, they are collecting diapers, baby wipes, NEW toiletries (such as soap, shampoo, tampons, toothpaste etc.) and NEW socks and underwear.

Take your donations to the ERS offices, downtown Edmonton (10255 104th Street). They will distribute them where they are needed most.

If you’d like to volunteer, please call 780-428-4422. Please leave a message, and they’ll get back to you.

Edmonton Food Bank

The Edmonton Food Bank is accepting donations for those affected by the Fort McMurray fires.

Donations of food may be left at any major grocery store or fire hall. You can also make monetary donations through the food bank’s website. Follow them on Facebook for updates about how to donate for those with special dietary needs.

Fort Mac Recovers

This site is designed to facilitate community preparedness and recovery. Residents can request help, and others can sign up to donate and volunteer.

If you’d like to donate you’ll be asked to list the type of donation you’re able to give (toothbrushes, baby food, shelter, etc.) and enter contact information, and an organizer will contact you when your donation is needed.

Also, sign up to volunteer, and an organizer will be in touch when the clean-up and recovery efforts are needed.

Wood Buffalo emergency social services

Apply to volunteer.

Facebook support groups

(CBC cannot verify or endorse these groups)

Offer accommodations for evacuees in these groups:

Donate goods and supplies:

Please note, unless you are part of an agency that has permission to be in the mandatory evacuation zones please do not try and enter. Although your intentions are good, you are causing responders to redirect their attention to you rather than assisting others in need and dealing with the emergency at hand.

Other organizations donating funds:

Mammoth Beard Co.

Mammoth Beard Co. is donating all their online profits towards the Red Cross today to provide support for Fort McMurray during this crisis.

Alberta Strong

Alberta Strong, provides Alberta-themed clothing, will donate up to $10 of the sale of their T-shirts and hoodies to the Fort McMurray wildfire relief.

*Information shared from CBC website/article: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/events/fort-mcmurray-how-to-help-donate-1.3566391 updated on May 4, 2016.*

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