'Don’t feel helpless:' Fort Mac residents mobilize to help people fleeing wildfires in B.C.
In addition to sending trucks full of supplies to Kamloops and Prince George, social media groups have formed to coordinate the effort and provide updates.
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More than a year after a fire devastated their city, Fort McMurray residents are extending a helping hand to people fleeing wildfires in British Columbia.
About 10,000 people have been forced from their homes as fire crews fight more than 200 fires from the B.C. interior.
In response, Fort McMurray residents are sending trailers of supplies to Kamloops and Prince George, packed water, toiletries, medical supplies, food and fuel.
“We’re helping our neighbours the way they helped us,” said Fort McMurray resident Justin Young, who fled the city’s fire one year ago and is managing several Facebook groups dedicated to posting updates and information for evacuees and those who want to help.
“I know how important it was and crucial it was to have that vital information be a part of our successful evacuation,” he said, noting the importance of contacting insurance companies, registering with the Canadian Red Cross and taking pictures of ones’ home and belongings before fleeing.
“We know that here in Fort McMurray, that some of our neighbours ended up in 100 Mile House … and they were treated with the utmost respect and taken care of so well,” he added. “So don’t feel helpless, embrace the ability to help through social media.”
So far, at least four pickup trucks pulling trailers with supplies for first responders and evacuees have gone to Kamloops and Prince George. There’s also several more shipments going out Monday, said Stephanie Klaamas, who is helping organize the trailers.
“I wanted to get involved because I was compelled to do so with all of the help our town received from the whole country last year,” she said. “It’s what helped everyone get through this in Fort McMurray.”
People can donate $10 directly to the Canadian Red Cross by texting FIRES to 45678. Klaamas emphasized the importance of donating to the Red Cross, because they help people return to their normal lives well after the fires are extinguished.
“When these fires are under control, attention dies off, but people are still going to urgently need help … these issues go one for months and months.”