Update February 2017
A needs assessment in the fall of 2016 showed the hope of Christ shining through the ashes (read more here) and fire survivors were connected with appropriate services for their urgent needs. Today, plans are underway for reconstruction as DRS Regional Managers work together with Mennonite Disaster Services and local officials in Fort McMurray; there are still many details to be worked out before work can begin. As such, your continued prayers are welcome for the planning process as well as for the individuals and families not yet recovered after last year's fires. Pray that the hope of Christ continues to be strongly felt as recovery plans progress.
A mandatory evacuation was in effected for the entire city of Fort McMurray, Alberta, population 80,000, during the first week of May 2016 as rampant wildfires engulfed everything in its path, consuming homes, businesses, and forests.
As the fires blazed, World Renew Disaster Response Services (DRS) asked for prayer and financial support. Staff and volunteers soon visited Alberta to meet with evacuees and strengthen relationships with the local churches and responders. As homeowners were receiving word that they would be able to start returning home in June, the provincial government asked World Renew DRS to begin exploring the possibility of a future unmet needs assessment. Representatives of the Reformed (RCA) and Christian Reformed churches in northern Alberta met with evacuees from Fort McMurray, including those from Evergreen Community CRC, to discuss their fire-related needs.
Clean-up of burned properties began in June and was being carried out by organizations that specialize in toxic ash removal. As Fort McMurray returned to their homes, they wrestle with what is, or is not, left of their lives and possessions.
At this time, World Renew DRS is at work with local and provincial officials, other response agencies, and churches to help plan when and where people’s homes can start to be rebuilt.
“It is becoming increasingly clear that the recovery process in Fort McMurray, Alberta, will take a considerable amount of time,” says Andrew Ryskamp, interim director for World Renew (DRS).“The length of time before people can return is testing people’s finances. World Renew DRS continues to work with the Northern Alberta Diaconate and Alberta churches in monitoring gaps in recovery services to care for those affected by the fires.”
Your prayers and generous donations are also needed. Gifts marked "Alberta Fires 2016" will support the fire response efforts in the days, weeks, and years to come.
If you would like to be alerted to volunteer opportunities as they arise, please sign up for the World Renew DRS monthly Opportunity Link here.
*Photo courtesy of Reuters.
**Donations will not be matched by the Canadian government.