Fort McMurray wildfire: How Canadians can help

Fort McMurray wildfire: How Canadians can help
WATCH: How are Canadians helping?

A wildfire that raged through Fort McMurray Tuesday night caused widespread damage in several neighbourhoods, including Beacon Hill, where 80 per cent of the homes were destroyed.

The wildfire has forced the evacuation of the entire northern Alberta city as officials warned, “the worst of the fire is not over.”

LIVE UPDATES: Fort McMurray wildfire

First responders, firefighters and emergency personnel are working on taming the fires while taking in evacuees fleeing from their homes.

“It’s quite surreal. We’ve seen the images on TV and we’re hearing from our teams on the ground there, that it’s rapidly evolving. We know that in the last 12 to 24 hours it’s dramatically changed and many people have had to evacuate,” Chiran Livera, deputy director of disaster management for the Red Cross, told Global News.

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Here’s how Canadians can help and what you should do if you’re in need.

How to help:

Donate: The Red Cross issued an emergency appeal for monetary donations that’ll cover immediate food supplies and shelter costs for evacuees, Livera said. Getting evacuees tended to, fed and with a roof over their heads is their primary priority. After that, funding could help with community rebuilding. You can make a donation on the Red Cross website, call 1-800-418-1111 or text REDCROSS to 30333 to make a $5 donation.

Provide supplies: While the Red Cross is focusing solely on monetary donations, a community group on Facebook is appealing for emergency supplies that Fort McMurray residents may need. Locals are encouraged to post at NEEDING while volunteers respond to their requests.

There is a closed Facebook group — meaning you have to request to sign up — called YMM Helping Others that’s become a valuable resource. Another Facebook group named Fort McMurray Everything Goes is providing gas for those who are stranded.

Edmonton city officials are reminding residents to drop off toiletries:

TownPost, a website for posting ads, is also taking donations on its buy and sell pages.

Volunteer: Both the Red Cross and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo are accepting volunteers. Livera said the Red Cross has deployed its trained volunteers in the region but that Canadians can apply online.

If you need help:

People who have been evacuated from affected regions can call the Red Cross’ around-the-clock hotline with questions or to register that they’re safe at 1-888-350-6070. Registering is key, Livera says. It helps family members reconnect and enables response workers to mobilize more resources.

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READ MORE: Wildfire burns through Fort McMurray, destroys homes in wake

The Red Cross, among other organizations, is live tweeting updates as more information pours in.

Camps to house evacuees have opened up. A full list can be found here.

Another 1,300 rooms are available at Black Diamond’s Sunday Creek Lodge about 15 kilometres south of Conklin. Here’s the lodge’s website.

If you’ve been evacuated, officials are asking you to email with your name, location, and confirmation of your safety.

READ MORE: Where to go if you’ve been evacuated

Facebook also has its safety-check for the Fort McMurray fire so you can check in that you’re safe, notifying your social media community immediately.

On Twitter, the hashtags tied to the Fort McMurray fires are #ymmhelp, #ymmfire#ymm and #abfire.

Key accounts to follow:

@RMWoodBuffalo The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo is sharing wildfire updates along with safe evacuation routes.

@511Alberta is also sharing live updates on road conditions, closures and routes to safely leave evacuated zones.

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@RedCrossAB and @redcrosscanada are also posting updates on evacuation numbers, help being deployed and how Canadians can assist.

LIVE UPDATES: Fort McMurray wildfire

 Click here for a full list of Fort McMurray wildfire coverage.

Listen below: 630 CHED is providing ongoing live coverage of the state of emergency in Fort McMurray.

With files from Chris Jancelewicz, Caley Ramsey and Adam Frisk