The American Red Cross has sent more than 50 disaster workers to help support the Canadian Red Cross after devastating wildfires forced the evacuation of more than 88,000 residents in Fort McMurray, Canada in early May. One of these Americans is Los Angeles Region Red Cross staff member Alex Rose, who is supervising a Canadian Red Cross client service center based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
Some 40,000 people were evacuated to Edmonton, and the Canadian Red Cross is providing numerous services for evacuees including the distribution of cash grants to families, so they can buy what they urgently need during this difficult time.
Rose is focusing on assisting the vulnerable population with special issues to ensure they are receiving necessary recovery planning and other assistance. On May 14 alone, the Edmonton center served some 200 people.
“It is a special experience to serve alongside our Canadian counterparts and other American disaster workers to help with this impressive relief operation,” said Rose. Although he has not seen the destruction himself, Rose has heard numerous stories from evacuees who describe “harrowing stories of escape through walls of fire and black smoke.”
Rose reports that there is a great deal of uncertainty about if and when these people, the vast majority of whom are in the oil industry, will be able to return to work.
“As part of the American Red Cross, it is touching and rewarding to have the opportunity to help the people of Alberta,” said Rose.