The news is good. The Fort Mac Fire is designated as no longer out of control. What a month this has been! Though we hope this is the worst of it, we are acutely aware that other communities across Canada could very well experience similar tragedies as Fort McMurray. How would we respond? After thousands of residents first started being evacuated from Fort McMurray, Canadians from Alberta and other provinces immediately stepped up to support those who were displaced. Today we want to share some of these initiatives—mostly grassroots efforts—to inspire you to consider even just small ways to support any community that is struck with a disaster.
The following are some of the most caring emergency response efforts that we’ve heard about:
- Canadians got in their vehicles and drove to offer gas, food, water and basic hygiene to anyone stranded at the side of the road.
- People opened their homes. To help get the word out, Airbnb activated its Disaster Response Tool in response to the ongoing crisis in Alberta. Once activated, the tool automatically emails hosts in the affected area asking them to help and allows local residents to easily list their space for free. The company also waives all services fees for those affected by disaster.
- Syrian refugee families who have only been living in Canada for a matter of months gathered together and raised money to help Fort McMurray evacuees. Their goal was to help feed people and boost morale because they knew only too well the trauma of having to leave everything behind. They wanted to give back to a country that has given them a home.
- The University of Alberta accommodated more than 1,000 evacuees in their Lister Centre residence, reaching full capacity.
- The Canadian Red Cross took donations to help fight the Alberta fires and the people it affected, with the Government of Canada matching every individual donation.
- The Edmonton Humane Society helped people take care of their pets.
- Volunteers offered to go find pets and communicated through social media to reunite pets with owners.
- The Government of Alberta issued prepaid debit cards.
- Any Fort McMurray residents in Edmonton who experienced flat tires or other tire issues were invited to the Fountain Tire at 8550 Yellowhead Trail for free repairs.
- Edmonton’s food bank, Expo Centre at Northlands and Emergency Relief Services, among other organizations, helped to organize relief efforts.
- People donated money, diapers, baby wipes, new toiletries, new socks and underwear, and other basic necessities.
- An open-source Facebook page was set up to help evacuees with resources and information.
- The U-Haul Company of Northern Alberta, Saskatchewan, the Northwest Territories and Edmonton offered 30 days of free self-storage and U-Box container use for people evacuated by wildfires who needed to store personal items.
- Many other organizations, as well as families and private companies and municipalities, pitched in to help with the huge wildfire and its aftermath.
And more! This list is far from exhausted. With the likelihood of more wildfires throughout this season, it’s comforting to see our neighbouring communities and provinces helping out where we can. The golden rule really does apply to emergency relief perfectly: Treat others as you would like to be treated.