Update: August 24, 2016
The May fires coupled with the August flooding in Fort McMurray continue to challenge the residents and the recovery organizations, but the recovery is making positive steps.
Major clean-up and debris removal in still in process. There are some devasted areas that still have restricted access and clean-up is just beginning in those areas. World Renew DRS regional managers were able to tour restricted areas in August. Many properties were destroyed by only a few lots have been cleared so far. Due to the hazardous nature of the ash left behind after the fires, professionals trained to handle contamination are providing clean-up services.
On August 23, World Renew DRS and other recovery agencies met in Fort McMurray with the municipality Task Force to make plans for the months after clean-up is complete as well as set the foundation for even longer-term recovery.
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.