With wildfires having caused significant damage to the community of Fort McMurray, Alta., the Legion put out an urgent call to action.
About 80,000 people were evacuated from the northern Alberta community as of early May. The Canadian Armed Forces have sent helicopters and other aircraft to assist the provincial authorities in delivering food and supplies and transporting people. More than 1,700 firefighters were on the scene.
“The devastation suffered by the residents of Fort McMurray is absolutely tragic,” said Dominion Immediate Past President Tom Eagles. “We have a history of assisting Canadians when states of emergency are declared and I have encouraged each of our 1,400 branches from every corner of this country to come together and help with financial donations or Legion branches opening their doors to welcome displaced area residents.”
Eagles recommended that branches donate to the Alberta-Northwest Territories Command Fort McMurray Relief Fund. Donations can be made at any TD Bank to account #80689-004-5237800/Alberta-N.W.T. Command. Donations can also be made to the Canadian Red Cross Alberta Fires Appeal.
Alberta-N.W.T. Command Executive Director Tammy Wheeler said that the fund had collected about $40,000 by May 12. “Everybody is pitching in,” she said. “Branches are sending money or just offering a place for people to get a bite to eat.”
At a joint news conference on May 11 with Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, Red Cross President Conrad Sauvé said the Red Cross was transferring $50 million to the evacuees who were staying in Calgary, Edmonton and Lac La Biche. Each adult would get $600 and each dependant $300 on preloaded debit cards.
Although the McMurray Branch in Fort McMurray was still standing after the fire, it suffered structural damage and is slated for demolition.