Nearly $300M raised for Fort McMurray wildfire recovery: Red Cross
The devastated neighbourhood of Timberlea in Fort McMurray Alta. is shown on Wednesday June 1, 2016. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson)
Published Wednesday, August 3, 2016 12:11PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, August 3, 2016 1:20PM EDT
Two months after wildfire devastated Fort McMurray in Alberta, the Canadian Red Cross says a total of $299 million has been raised to date for recovery efforts.
Alberta government representatives on Wednesday joined federal officials, the Canadian Red Cross and the municipality of Wood Buffalo to provide an update on the relief funds.
The federal government said it is delivering on its promise to match May donations to help Fort McMurray wildfire relief efforts by providing $104 million.
The Alberta government also announced it would be contributing more than $30 million in matching donations from individual Albertans.
Canadian Red Cross CEO Conrad Sauve said the organization has already spent $146 million.
Some of Red Cross’ Fort McMurray relief funding allocations:
• $84.4 million -- direct cash payments for Fort McMurray residents
• $50 million – local charities, including food banks
• $30 million – small business recovery
• $12 million – community resiliency and fire prevention
Sauve said Canadians “were touched by seeing fellow Canadians being evacuated and the fire and responded tremendously.
“We have got donations from every part of the country,” he added.
Alberta MP Kent Hehr said first responders, the Canadian Red Cross and community organizations “worked together in seamless fashion” to help support victims in the immediate aftermath of the May wildfire that devastated neighbourhoods in Fort McMurray.
Without them, he said, “who knows what could’ve happened.
“It was these people that were here to shepherd (residents) through this trying time,” said Hehr, who is chair of the federal government’s Special Cabinet Committee for Coordinating Relief Efforts.
More than 90,000 Fort McMurray residents were forced to leave their homes as the wildfire burned out of control. The fire also destroyed 2,400 homes and buildings and prompted the shutdown of two oilsands facilities.
Residents and small business owners have been returning to the community to rebuild in recent weeks, but some displaced residents said that they are frustrated that two months after the fire they still don’t know when they can return home.