FORT MCMURRAY—Canadian Global Response continues its presence in Fort McMurray, AB, even as the Alberta government has recently listed wildfires (aptly named “the Beast”) that destroyed 2,400 buildings as “being held.” The classification means the fire is not yet under control but is no longer expected to grow. Over the past month we have provided debris clean up, fridge/freezer removal, emotional support, and recovering belongings from ash via sifting. Our volunteers were also serving at seven welcome centres across the city, and can now be found handing out hampers to returnees at the airport or hotels and apartment buildings. Ashouts, fridge removal and emotional support remains part of our everyday schedule. Here are two video updates from CGR President Abraham Shepherd:
We have welcomed over sixty volunteers who came in two groups from Oklahoma and N. Carolina via SBDR, with many continuing to stay in the weeks to come. Volunteers from Calgary, Edmonton and surrounding areas have also helped on the ground, actively working in ashouts. It has also been a privilege working with CGR volunteers from Fort McMurray, who in some cases have lost their homes but remain vigilant and desire to help local homeowners. Terry, one of our ashout team leaders, remarked after two homes were sifted, “We have a great group of volunteer workers. One lady that we helped ashout her on Monday is now even helping us on our team!”
Psycho-emotional and relational support also remains a central focus in the relief efforts, with Ed, a support volunteer sharing, “Normal is just a setting on your dryer—but in life things never truly get back to the old normal, so we need to help them find a new normal.”
We are in need of at least four volunteer cooks in Fort Mac! Some of our Oklahoma volunteers are returning home and the government has asked us to help oversee salvaging of bulldozed houses. We have the capacity to make 1,100 meals/day, and are also cooking for volunteer partners Samaritan’s Purse Canada. This morning our cooks woke up early to fashion Southern grits, eggs, biscuits, sausage and ham! If you’re able to come for a few days between June 18-26, please email us ASAP and we will help coordinate logistics of your deployment. We’ll work out details and accommodations. Pass on this invite to others who may be interested invite to others—they’ll just need to know how to use a convection oven and tilt skillet.
CGR volunteers with a background in construction are also been requested for the next few weeks. Thank you for your donations and volunteer inquiries. Initial funds received have already been deployed through local volunteers, with food, medications, and clothing distributed to families in need. Hampers have also been distributed to help families reestablish themselves in communities across Alberta. We are requesting further donations, which will be used to purchase basic necessities for families still in need, and assist in the volunteer efforts.
Further service opportunities and information about disaster relief efforts in Fort McMurray will be made available as soon as possible. Anyone wishing to respond can help by donating to CGR’s disaster relief efforts in Fort McMurray through the donation button below, or selecting other giving options on our donation page.