Food, fuel and a place to stay: outpouring of support follows Fort McMurray fire
MIKE ALLEN/THE CANADIAN PRESS
Outpouring of support from people, businesses and animal shelters
By Catherine Phillips, Stephen Karmazyn and Kristene Quan
People are doing everything they can to help those affected by the ravaging fire. All across social media, people are showing support, with offers of food and water, clothing, fuel, and a place for families and their pets to stay.
The domestic and commercial delivery service Big D's Delivery has been supplying residents with food, water, and fuel.
2000 waters, 300 apples, 300 oranges, 300 liters of fuel, pet food, baby food and still going strong. We got lots more! We are here to help.— Big D's Delivery (@BigDsDelivery) May 4, 2016
To all the people that forced us to take their money for food, water and gas. Know that it will be donated. Back... https://t.co/5L3h95lkz0— Big D's Delivery (@BigDsDelivery) May 4, 2016
Jeff Peddle from Fort McMurray restaurant Chez Max brought food from his restaurant to hungry evacuees.
Signs of those welcoming others to their home:
My husband is on highway 881. Before Conklin he said ppl were out on the roads holding up signs welcoming ppl to their homes. 💗💗 #ymmfire— lois quagmire (@loisquagmire) May 4, 2016
"Fort McMurray evac relocation help" is one of several Facebook groups dedicated to helping victims of the disaster. It has accumulated nearly 25,000 members in the past day, providing a constant flow of information on places for evacuees to go. Members are posting screen grabs of various offers of help, from emergency food and water to a couch to sleep on.
Cordell Heywood in Drayton Valley posted a photo of his truck full of water bottles. He was offering food, water, diesel, gasoline, and equipment for those in need.
When Courtney Keating said she was looking for a place to go in Edmonton with her four children and pets, Darren Chubaty quickly offered up a queen bed, food, water, tea and a hot shower. Several others came forward afterward to offer up their homes or direct the family to a shelter.
Gerald Auger posted a photo of the trunk of his car loaded with water bottles ready to help those in need.
Several businesses are offering free pet boarding for families in need.
Calgary-based CRAFT Beer Market said they would be collecting donations – everything from perishable food items to clothing to toiletries to monetary donations – for those affected by the fire.
Businesses and institutions across Canada are also helping the relief effort.
As well, the NHL's St. Louis Blues said the team and Blues Alumni would raise money to help those affected by the fire during Game 4 against the Dallas Stars on Thursday. Blues forward Scottie Upshall is a native of Fort McMurray.
Baby born after mother evacuated
by The Canadian Press
When a baby's ready to be born, not even a raging wildfire or hurried evacuation can get in the way.
That's what staff at the Noralta Lodge at Fort McMurray Village discovered Tuesday when a woman who had been brought to the housing camp went into labour.
Blaire McCalla, marketing manager for the company that provides housing for oilfield workers, said as fire forced the evacuation of the city on Tuesday, several medical personnel from the local hospital were brought to the lodge, 26 kilometres north of Fort McMurray.
She said a woman who was in labour was brought to the lodge and gave birth with the help of the medical staff, "so that's kind of nice."
The woman was later transferred to an airstrip for evacuation.
McCalla was unsure whether the camp already had a medical centre or if the hospital workers set up a makeshift clinic, but either way, the facility served the purpose.
"And stress can often induce labour, so it's not all that surprising, I guess."
Fort McMurray Mayor Melissa Blake took to social media to mark the blessed event.
Oilsands work camps housing evacuees
by The Canadian Press
Oilsands work camps were being pressed into service Tuesday to house evacuees.
"We've made our work camp available to staff and their families who have been evacuated and need a place to stay," said Cameron Yost of Shell Canada.
Most oilsands projects are well north of the community, while the worst of the flames were on the city's south side.
Shell's camp is about 95 kilometres away and remained operating late Tuesday.
Still, precautions were being taken.
"We are looking at getting non-essential people out by aircraft," said Yost, who added Shell's camp could accommodate hundreds of evacuees.
Will Gibson, a spokesman for Syncrude, which has a plant about 35 kilometres north of town, was himself one of the evacuees heading north away from the flames.
"People are actually being evacuated toward the plants," he said. "We're being instructed to go to work camps in the region and report in there. We're assuming it will be more than a night."
Gibson said he had to flee his neighbourhood via a grass embankment because the fire had already cut off the road at both ends.
"I left my neighbourhood and there was houses on fire," he said. "I don't know if and when I'll be going back."
Large work camps associated with oilsands projects can accommodate thousands to house workers who come from as far away as Newfoundland and Labrador.
A 2015 municipal census counted 43,000 people in its "shadow" population, a term used for temporary residents who often live in such camps.