United Way of Fort McMurray

United Way of Fort McMurray

May 07, 2016 17:04 ET

United Way of Fort McMurray: After the Fire, We Will Rebuild

CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwired - May 7, 2016) - With staff and volunteers spread across communities in Alberta, The United Way of Fort McMurray has launched a campaign to raise funds for the recovery and rebuilding phases of this disaster. Donations are now being accepted at www.unitedforfortmcmurray.ca.

By donating to United For Fort McMurray you will be helping tens of thousands of our city's residents recover from this disaster and return to our families, friends and neighbourhoods. Donations will be used to help address important social needs like housing, food assistance, trauma and mental health supports, and rebuilding our entire social infrastructure.

"We are deeply grateful to the thousands of Albertans who have opened up their homes, or contributed financially to the emergency relief," said Diane Shannon, Executive Director, The United Way of Fort McMurray. "The Red Cross provides critical emergency services during the time of evacuation and temporary resettlement while the agencies are critical to supporting the community become re-established and functioning. This will be a much longer process. We know the heavy lifting still lies ahead of us as we contemplate how to rebuild our lives in the community we love."

The social services infrastructure of Fort McMurray and Wood Buffalo will need significant financial support to rebuild the capacity required to meet the needs of the community.

Operating from an office generously provided by United Way Capital Region in Edmonton, she stressed the importance of beginning to prepare for returning home.

"We have all suffered unparalleled losses, and while the scope won't be known until the fire is extinguished, we know that many people working in the sector had homes in affected neighbourhoods," said Shannon. "We also know that some agency facilities were in the direct path of the fire."

"We are preparing now for the rebuilding process to come," said Tony Mankowski, President, The United Way of Fort McMurray Board of Directors. "We will rebuild, but we'll need all the help we can get."

The need to build resources for the recovery phase as early as possible in the crisis was one of the learnings that came out of the 2013 Calgary flood.

"Our hearts go out to the people impacted by the fires, including many of our own employees and partners," says Cathy Glover, director, community investment, Suncor. "The response to the Calgary floods taught us that events like this are fluid and will shift through different phases. First is Response, where there is the need to get everyone to safety and look after their immediate needs. Second is the Re-entry, where the community begins to think about returning home and finally Rebuilding and Recovery for the long term. This Fund will help to support the community with Re-entry, by directly providing resources to local community organizations that will play a critical role in helping as community members return home."

Those experiencing trauma are encouraged to call 211 for access to immediate supports.

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