The Fort McMurray wildfire, which spurred an Alberta-wide state of emergency Wednesday, continued to wreak havoc on the area for weeks. Premier Rachel Notley and members of the media had the chance to tour parts of Fort McMurray last week, to see firsthand the devastation left behind by fires that continue to burn.
The province also ran several telephone town halls to address outstanding questions from displaced Fort McMurray residents.
READ MORE:Calgary official warns Fort McMurray fire evacuees, saying ‘if you have a place to stay, stay there’
Evacuees were invited to listen to the sessions online and audio was posted following the events.
While the federal government announced it will match all donations to the Red Cross to help the nearly 90,000 people forced out of their homes, many community groups, organizations, and businesses across Canada were also pitching in to offer free services, places to stay, food and support.
One website, ymmhelp.com, has options to offer or request help, and includes accommodation listings as well as special offers and discounts throughout the province.
Watch Below: Alberta premier Rachel Notley details where evacuees can get help.
For the latest stories on the Fort McMurray wildfire, click here
The province is also reminding evacuees to keep all their receipts for food purchases, accommodations and other related expenses to provide to their insurer for possible reimbursement.
Click on the list below to skip to specific types of resources on offer.
- Cellphone, internet and cable service
- Money transfer
- Essential service
If you want to offer help or support, please comment in our live blog below.
You can follow the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB) and Alberta Emergency Alert on Twitter for the latest updates.
Radio station 630 CHED will broadcast live with the latest updates on the situation.
READ MORE: Fort McMurray wildfire – residents face difficult road to recovery, expert says
Watch below: Global’s ongoing coverage of the fire in Fort McMurray
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Free accommodations began popping up on Airbnb for those searching for a place to stay. The RMWB also provides a list of hotels with “compassionate rates” here.
A website to offer a home or apply for a home to stay in has been set up, along with a special page on RentFaster.ca where landlords have posted properties at a discount rental rate (some are even free). There were just under 600 properties listed in Calgary, Edmonton and surrounding areas as of May 17.
READ MORE – Fort McMurray fire interactive map: NASA data shows fire invading town
A number of workforce camps opened up rooms to accommodate people. Noralta Lodge has been providing rooms at its Village site, Grey Wolf site and Firebag site.
To check on room availability at Black Diamond’s Sunday Creek Lodge, about 15 kilometres south of Conklin, evacuees are asked to visit the lodge’s website.
The Wood Buffalo Housing & Development Corporation (WBHDC) announced May 20 it will provide rent relief to all tenants beginning May 3 up to the time tenants are allowed to safely re-occupy their rental units. The relief will apply to May and June rents, at a minimum. For more information, click here.
“The government of Alberta has committed to cover the rent for all of WBHDC’s social housing and seniors-lodge clients through the evacuation period, which amounts to about 10 percent of the rental property portfolio,” the company said in a release. “WBHDC hopes to recover lost rental revenues attributable to its affordable gap housing, the remaining 90 percent of its portfolio, through insurance coverage, and federal and provincial disaster relief programs.”
Devonshire, a property management company with three properties in Edmonton, is offering rent reductions for those who had to flee Fort McMurray and would normally qualify as a tenant. You can contact on-site managers at Oliver Place – 10130 117 St. 780-482-5146, Riverside Towers – 8610 Jasper Ave. 780-429-3578 or Grand Central – 10904 – 102 Ave. 780-420-1524.
Hope Street Real Estate Corp. property management company said it has over 100 vacant rental homes–some furnished–available for evacuees to stay for free for “a month or so.” Inquiries can be made by contacting their website at HopeStreet.ca, or via a 24-hour emergency line at 403-520-5220.
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Skyline Living apartment buildings is offering two free months’ rent at three of its Edmonton-area buildings. Sixty units will be made available at Brintnell Landing and Heritage Valley in Edmonton, and Emerald Hills in Sherwood Park. The rental company is seeking furniture that can be given or loaned to residents for the duration of their stay. Those who can donate are asked to call Leeanne Klyne at 587-926-4479.
Fort McMurray residents will get a 50 per cent discount at all 41 Canalta-managed hotels across Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba until the situation improves, according to a release from the hotel chain Thursday afternoon. You can call the hotel company at 1-855-933-1933.
People in the region have also started a Facebook page to offer up spare rooms and beds for those with nowhere else to go. On Twitter, people started using the hashtag #ymmhelp to also offer a place to stay. A second Facebook page was later set up with people offering up places to stay.
READ MORE – Fort McMurray wildfire: Dashcam video shows tense moments as Beacon Hill residents escape flames
MacEwan University announced it will open its campus residents to evacuees, administered through Red Cross. Evacuees should register with Red Cross at the Edmonton Reception Centre. More information here.
The University of Alberta in Edmonton welcomed 1,000 evacuees at Lister Centre and St. Joseph’s College on Friday. Evacuees are receiving food, housing, parking, free access to the U of A’s recreation facilities and libraries. The Crisis Counselling team is also providing services. As of Tuesday, May 10, the university said it is no longer accepting evacuees. A spokesperson said the university had been asked by the government to hold any remaining spaces for the long-term needs of evacuees.
Watch below: Dramatic video from the Fort McMurray wildfire
Northlands Expo Centre in Edmonton is located at 75 Street and 118 Avenue. Pets are not allowed inside the Northlands reception centre. Those with pets are asked to take them to the city’s Animal Care and Control Centre any day between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. (13550-163 St.). If you are staying at the City of Edmonton Reception Centre and do not have a vehicle, an Animal Care and Control officer can transport your pet to the ACCC. The ACCC is available to assist with pets outside the centre by the Hall A entrance.
The Al Rashid Mosque at 13070 113 Street Edmonton is also open to all evacuees.
The Edmonton Emergency Relief Services Society (EERSS) is at 10255 104 Street and is in desperate need of donations, staff told Global News. Anyone who wants to volunteer is urged to head to the centre, where donations of toiletries, pillows, feminine products, baby products, socks and generic clothing are needed to help support the evacuees.
The YMCA of Northern Alberta is also offering free entry until further notice to those wishing to shower or access drop-in facilities at four locations:
William Lutsky Family YMCA, 1975 111 Street 780 439-YMCA (9622)
Don Wheaton Family YMCA, 10211 102 Avenue 780 452-YMCA (9622)
Jamie Platz Family YMCA, 7121 178 Street 780 481-YMCA (9622)
Castle Downs Family YMCA, 11510 153 Avenue 780 476-YMCA (9622)
The Children’s Cottage Society in Calgary is opening up its crisis nursery to child evacuees aged newborn to eight years old. Kids can stay for up to three overnights in order to allow their parents time to take a break or resolve issues. Parents can also register kids aged three months to 12 years in free child care at one of the society’s affiliated daycares. For more information, contact the crisis nursery at 403-233-2273 or the daycare program respite coordinator at 403-619-3153.
Watch below from May 5: Video supplied to Global News shows the devastation inside the city of Fort McMurray as fires continue to engulf the city and surrounding area.
Reception Centres around the Province:
Eleven reception centres continued to operate across the province Wednesday. Additional details are available on the Alberta Government Emergency Updates website:
- Lac La Biche – The Bold Centre – 8702-91 Ave.
- Edmonton – Northlands Grounds, Hall A – 7515-118 Ave.
- St. Paul – Centennial Recreation Centre – 4802-53 St.
- Athabasca Agriplex – Highway 813 and RR224, Athabasca
- Grasslands – Community Hall – Main St.
- Drayton Valley Omniplex – 5737-45 Ave.
- Smoky Lake Complex – 4612-54 Ave.
- University of Calgary – Dining Centre – 124 University Gate N.W.
- Mount Royal University – 200 Mount Royal Circle S.W. in Calgary
- Fort Chipewyan (For First Nation Band members only)
- Beaver Lake Cree Nation Lodge – Cardinal Drive
Cellphone, internet, and cable service:
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Rogers and sub-brand Fido announced it would waive the cost of calls and texts to and from Fort McMurray to help customers stay safe “and in touch with loved ones.”
Telus and sub-brand Koodo are also waiving all additional call and text charges through May 17 for Fort McMurray customers. Telus said Fort McMurray residents who don’t have a cellphone can dial ‘0’ from a Telus payphone for free calls in Canada.
Shaw GO WiFi has been opened to all residents north of Edmonton.
Shaw also announced Saturday they would be providing a one-month service credit to all customers in the Fort McMurray area and other northern Alberta communities affected by the wildfire. The credit will be applied retroactively to May 3.
Bell isn’t waiving feeds, but donated $100,000 to the Canadian Red Cross Wednesday and is supporting fundraising efforts with “public service announcements and promotion of mobile text donations with the public and our team across the country.”
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Western Union is waiving its fees for money transfers to Alberta so people anywhere in Canada can send money to the province for free. A spokesperson said customers will be able to pick up money at any Western Union Agent in Alberta, including Money Mart and Cash Money.
Western Union is also matching contributions to the Canadian Red Cross Society from both its agents and its employees.
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The federal government has put plans in place to speed up access to Employment Insurance for Fort McMurray fire evacuees. Workers can apply online or in person, even without a Record of Employment. Workers are asked to enter the following reference code online: 4812 01 2016 030516.
The Government of Alberta approved emergency financing for the approximately 80,000 people evacuated from Fort McMurray this week, Premier Notley announced Friday morning. Each adult will receive $1,250 and each dependent will get $500. The funds will be made available in the coming days and Notley said it will cost the province about $100 million.
READ MORE: Feds make EI claims easier, faster for Fort McMurray fire evacuees
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Carver PA Corporation is offering up to $500,000 worth of “complimentary technical competency development and skills enhancement training” for evacuees, along with up to $500,000 in recruiting services to help source the “man power required for the cleanup, restoration and rebuilding” of the region. Carver is a recruiting and training firm in the energy sector. For more information, visit the website or call 780-489-4444.
The Edmonton Public School Board said it is welcoming students from Fort McMurray into its system. Students from Fort McMurray who are displaced are now able to register for an Edmonton school. If you’ve arrived in Edmonton from Fort McMurray and want to register your child in an Edmonton Public School, visit the website for information.
Watch below: How to talk to you kids about the fires
The Edmonton Catholic School Board is also accepting students from Fort McMurray who want to register. Families with students from Kindergarten to Grade 9 are asked to contact One World…One Centre at 780-944-2001. High school students are asked to call Sacred Heart Centre at 780-944-2000 for registration.
“In Edmonton, both school boards have already clearly indicated that all families have to do is contact the school that they wish their children to begin attending and contact the administration in that school and the kids are welcome to start on Monday,” Premier Rachel Notley said on Saturday.
Elk Island Public Schools, Elk Island Catholic Schools, and St. Paul Education Regional Division are also taking in Fort McMurray students.
Notley said Fort McMurray students who were scheduled to write diploma exams, departmental exams or provincial achievement tests next week would not have to write the exams. Final grades will be marked based on all other work done in the course.
“I know that’s actually a stressful thing. I’ve heard about that from kids in the reception centre, so it’s important for them to know,” Notley said.
The Alberta government said Student Aid Alberta has put measures in place to assist current post-secondary students, graduates and individuals affected by the Fort McMurray wildfire.
Student loan payments for those affected, including for recent graduates, will be deferred for six months, interest free. Detailed information for students and graduates is available on the Student Aid website. You can also contact Student Aid over the phone Monday to Friday between 7:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. at 1-855-606-2096.
Watch below: Mayor Don Iveson said he is proud of the work the people of Edmonton are doing as evacuees from the Fort McMurray wildfire make their way into the city. He said there’s more work to be done and the city will do everything it can to help.
A member of the Psychologists Association of Alberta’s Public Education Committee suggested the following tips for affected by the fires:
- Keep things in perspective
- Take a news break
- Be kind to yourself
- Find a productive way to help
For more mental health resources, click here.
Healing Connections at 10548 115 Street in Edmonton is offering free services and treatments to volunteers and evacuees on Wednesday, May 25 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Areas include reflexology, massage, acupuncture, reiki, grief counseling and other support. You can email to book an appointment at email@example.com.
Shoppers Drug Mart locations in Alberta are offering displaced Fort McMurray residents a 20 per cent discount.
Loblaw is giving $300,000 in support for relief efforts, including cash donations, clothing, pet food, and essential food and health supplies.
“We’d also like to thank our customers for their incredibly generous response – to date in our stores, they have donated more than $3.5 million and 65.7 million Shoppers Optimum points to the Canadian Red Cross,” external communication vice president Tammy Smitham said in a statement.
Children’s hair salon Beaners Fun Cuts is offering free cuts to all Fort McMurray residents at Calgary locations with proof of identification. For more information, visit the website here.
Alberta massage therapists and holistic practitioners are providing free massages and other treatments, including acupressure, reiki and reflexology, for Fort McMurray evacuees.
Free, 30-minute treatments will be offered between Tuesday, May 17 and Thursday, May 19 at the Bellevue Community League Hall.
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Edmonton Transit Service is offering free shuttle service for fire evacuees between the Edmonton International Airport and the reception centre at Northlands. It also suspended fares between the airport and Century Park until further notice.
READ MORE: Fort McMurray fire – Air Canada to offer partial refunds for people fleeing wildfire
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Earls is offering a free sandwich and drink to evacuees with a government-issued ID and Fort McMurray address at any of its Edmonton locations.
Kinnikinnick Fresh at 10940 120 Street in Edmonton is offering celiac evacuees gluten-free food.
Uncle Ed’s Restaurant at 4824 118 Ave. in Edmonton is offering a free lunch to evacuees.
The Pint locations in Edmonton are offering free meals for evacuees with a Fort McMurray address.
Padmanadi Vegetarian Restaurant at 10740 101 St. is offering a free lunch and dinner to those with a Fort McMurray address on their ID.
Moxie’s Grill and Bar locations in Edmonton are offering a free entrée and drink with ID.
Delux Burger Bar in Edmonton is giving away a free burger and drink with proof of residency.
The Edmonton Food Bank is accepting donations for those affected by the fires. Donations of food can be left at any major grocery store or fire hall. You can also make monetary donations through the food bank’s website.
On the Rocks is offering evacuees a free meal and drink with ID.
The Druid is offering a free meal and drink to evacuees with ID.
Free BBQ Sunday, May 15 from 2-6 p.m. for evacuees at Al Rashid Mosque 13070-113 Street in Edmonton.
For more food offerings, click here.
Watch below: Urgent call for donations as Edmonton continues to help out Fort McMurray wildfire evacuees
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Until September 5, regular admission fees will be waived for evacuees at all provincially-owned historic sites and museums, as well as the Bow Habitat Station in Calgary.
West Edmonton Mall is offering Fort McMurray residents the opportunity to enjoy its attractions free of charge Thursday.
Evacuees will be able to spend time at Galaxyland Amusement Park, World Waterpark, the Ice Palace, Sea Life Caverns, Sea Lions’ Rock, Professor Wem’s Adventure Golf, Dragon’s Tale Blacklight Mini-Golf and Crystal Labyrinth Mirror Maze. Residents are required to show proof of residence to receive a special wristband that will grant free access to the attractions.
The Telus World of Science is offering free admission to fire evacuees until May 11.
Any Fort McMurray evacuees can visit City of Edmonton attractions and recreation centres effective Thursday afternoon. Visitors to the Muttart Conservatory, Edmonton Valley Zoo, John Janzen Nature Centre and any City of Edmonton recreation centre will be granted free admission upon presentation of their government-issued identification until further notice.
Fort Calgary is also offering free admission for all evacuees and family members who find themselves in Calgary. Free or discounted programs will also be offered for students and summer camps. For more information, visit http://www.fortcalgary.com.
Parks Canada is offering displaced residents of Fort McMurray and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo free day passes to Elk Island National Park over the May long weekend and until June 15. For more information, call 780-922-5790 or visit the website here.
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The Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society (AARCS) is inviting Fort McMurray evacuees in need of pet supplies to visit its Calgary Safe Haven Facility at 3851 21 Street N.E. on Sunday, May 15 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Evacuees can pick up items such as food, leashes, crates and beds. For more information, visit the website here.
READ MORE: Fort McMurray SPCA spent the weekend rescuing pets—in secret
The Alberta SPCA requests any evacuees with pets left behind register them online here.