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Fort McMurray wildfire: Edmonton Expo Centre sees 17,000 evacuees

WATCH ABOVE: The City of Edmonton provides an update on the services at the Northlands reception centre Thursday morning.

A flow of evacuees has been arriving in Edmonton since wildfires hit Fort McMurray and other areas of the Wood Buffalo region last week.

As of Thursday morning, the Edmonton Expo evacuation centre at Northlands had processed 17,000 people since the facility opened its doors to evacuees last Wednesday.

IN PHOTOS: The Fort McMurray fire that displaced 80,000 people

Northlands reception centre – who and what it’s for

About 12,045 people have registered at the Expo Centre as of Thursday morning. About 402 people stayed overnight at the evacuation centre both Tuesday and Wednesday night, which is a considerable drop from Friday night when the number was at 2,100.

Gerry Clarke, acting emergency reception centre district manager, said many of these people have no other connections in the city and have nowhere else to go.

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“This is going to be their home for the next little while and the powers that be are going to do their best to make sure they get something in the near future,” Clarke said Wednesday morning.

“We still have those pockets of people that are being evacuated from remote or secluded areas that the initial responders who are assisting remove from the area,” Rob Brekke, emergency support response team coordinator with the City of Edmonton, said.

READ MORE: Viral stomach bug breaks out among Fort McMurray wildfire evacuees at Northlands reception centre

There are plenty of supplies and resources currently to assist those still needing help.

Clarke said they will provide assistance to people for as long as they help.

“It’s maybe not predictable that it’s going to keep going down because there’s other people that have been relying on friends and family to stay there, and as this runs on in duration, it might be time for them to move to something different, or give the people that are helping them out a break,” Gerry Clarke, emergency reception centre manager, said.

READ MORE: Fort McMurray wildfire evacuees line up for emergency funds in droves for second day

Animals are not allowed inside the reception centre. If you are a wildfire evacuee and need shelter for your pet, you can take your pet to the Animal Care and Control Centre any day between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. (13550-163 St.).

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The ACCC has accepted many pets belonging to evacuees but is nearing capacity. The centre has access to alternative accommodation sites outside Edmonton for animals needing shelter. 

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Volunteers prepare thousands of cots for Fort McMurray wildfire evacuees at the Northlands reception centre in Edmonton Friday, May 6, 2016. Vinesh Pratap, Global News
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Volunteers prepare thousands of cots for Fort McMurray wildfire evacuees at the Northlands reception centre in Edmonton Friday, May 6, 2016. Vinesh Pratap, Global News

 

Officials from the Alberta government arrived on site Friday morning and were looking at setting up assistance for longer-term housing for those in need of a place to stay.

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In the meantime, the volunteers and staff at Northlands are doing everything they can to keep people comfortable.

“Northlands has been a fantastic partner, providing three square meals, hot meals, as well as other nutritional elements throughout the entire day,” Brekke said.

“I would suggest that as much as people are still distraught and that awareness of reality is starting to kick in that we have assets here that are dealing with it, and it’s a very positive atmosphere here still.”

READ MORE: Where Fort McMurray fire evacuees can get help and information

Notley said plans are underway to provide longer-term housing for people.

“We’ve asked officials to get to work on this even though we are still in that first phase,” Notley said. “In order to plan this, we need to know what the need is and that’s why it’s so important for people to register.”

Brekke wanted to make it clear that not everyone needs to register at the reception centre; it is for people who need emergency care such as medical assistance, clothing and food. Insurance companies have also set up on site to provide assistance to those who need it.

Mayor Don Iveson echoed those directions late last week.

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“If people need accommodations, they should come here. But if they are able to shelter with friends and family… The best thing they can do is register online.”

Watch below: Mayor Don Iveson talks about how Edmonton is welcoming evacuees and praises the work done in the city

Evacuees should contact the Red Cross at 1-888-350-6070 or through its website to register their location. It’s important to register to ensure officials know how to reach you and to verify you got out safely.

Services for evacuees

The City of Edmonton said all city-run facilities are open to Fort McMurray wildfire evacuees free of charge. To date, more than 2,000 evacuees have visited city facilities since they were opened up free of charge on May 5. Judi Rohovi, director of the Terwillegar, Meadows and Clareview rec centres, said the Valley Zoo has been the most popular spot, with about 1,500 people passing through the doors.

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More information on the city facilities can be found on the City of Edmonton’s website.

Where Edmontonians can drop off donations

The Edmonton Emergency Relief Service depot is in desperate need of donations, particularly laundry detergent, ready-to-use baby formula, underwear, plus sized clothing and towels.

So far, the society has helped nearly 14,000 evacuees.

“We have received an overwhelming amount of donations,” EERSS spokeswoman Nicole Geoffroy said. “Since Day 1, the items have been coming in, but now that we know what evacuees really need, we have specific donation requirements.”

Donation drop-off locations:

9727-47 Avenue
Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

3631-56 Avenue East (Hangar at Edmonton International Airport)
Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Saturday to Sunday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Watch below: As people fled Fort McMurray and area, the need for everyday basics became apparent. Today, evacuees had a chance to pick up some of those daily necessities. Vinesh Pratap reports.

Click to play video: 'Evacuees pick up the basic essentials' Evacuees pick up the basic essentials
Evacuees pick up the basic essentials – May 9, 2016

For the latest information on what items are in need, visit the relief service’s Facebook page.

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The Edmonton Emergency Relief Services distribution centre opened at Kingsway Mall Monday morning. It is located inside the old Target space.

Evacuees can pick up items at the relief centre, the downtown location on 104 Street or at the Kingsway Target location.

Donations cannot be dropped off at Northlands and volunteers are not needed on site. If you would like to volunteer, you’re asked to call 780-428-4422 and leave a message.

The Red Cross is accepting monetary donations online or by phone at 1-800-418-1111. As of Wednesday, Canadians had donated more than $60 million to the Red Cross for Fort McMurray relief.

The Edmonton Food Bank is collecting non-perishable food items at major grocery stores and fire halls. Last Friday, the food bank said it was in particular need of small jars of peanut butter, pasta, dry beans and lentils, ready-to-eat non-perishable dinners, rice, toiletries and toiler paper. For more information on how to donate, visit the food bank’s website.

Donations for animals

The Edmonton Humane Society is accepting donations of food and supplies at the shelter located at 13620 – 163 St. The shelter will disperse donations as needed. Check the EHS website for hours or call 780-471-1774.

Corporate donations

Please contact the City of Edmonton’s Emergency Operations Centre at 780-944-6408 to make a corporate donation.

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Watch below: 1,800 Fort McMurray wildfire evacuees temporarily call Edmonton home 

Click to play video: 'Fort McMurray wildfire: 1,800 evacuees temporarily call Edmonton home' Fort McMurray wildfire: 1,800 evacuees temporarily call Edmonton home
Fort McMurray wildfire: 1,800 evacuees temporarily call Edmonton home – May 6, 2016

If you want to offer help or support, please comment in our live blog below.

As of Friday morning, the Fort McMurray wildfire had grown to 100,000 hectares in size. More than 80,000 people have been forced from their homes.

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Aerial view of highway 63 south of Fort McMurray taken from a CH-146 Griffon helicopter on May 5, 2016. The Canadian Armed Forces have air assets deployed in support of the Province of Alberta's wildfire emergency response efforts. Photo by: MCPL VanPutten, 3 CSDB Imaging
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Aerial view of Fort McMurray taken from a CH-146 Griffon helicopter on May 5, 2016. The Canadian Armed Forces have air assets deployed in support of the Province of Alberta's wildfire emergency response efforts. Photo by: MCPL VanPutten, 3 CSDB Imaging
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Aerial view of Fort McMurray taken from a CH-146 Griffon helicopter on May 5, 2016. The Canadian Armed Forces have air assets deployed in support of the Province of Alberta's wildfire emergency response efforts. Photo by: MCPL VanPutten, 3 CSDB Imaging
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Aerial view of highway 63 south of Fort McMurray taken from a CH-146 Griffon helicopter on May 5, 2016. The Canadian Armed Forces have air assets deployed in support of the Province of Alberta's wildfire emergency response efforts. Photo by: MCPL VanPutten, 3 CSDB Imaging
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Members from 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron, Edmonton fly a CH-146 Griffon to view the damage created by wild fires in the Fort McMurray area on May 5, 2016.The Canadian Armed Forces have air assets deployed in support of the Province of Alberta's wildfire emergency response efforts. Photo by: MCPL VanPutten, 3 CSDB Imaging
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Aerial view of highway 63 south of Fort McMurray taken from a CH-146 Griffon helicopter on May 5, 2016. The Canadian Armed Forces have air assets deployed in support of the Province of Alberta's wildfire emergency response efforts. Photo by: MCPL VanPutten, 3 CSDB Imaging
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Aerial view of highway 63 south of Fort McMurray taken from a CH-146 Griffon helicopter on May 5, 2016. The Canadian Armed Forces have air assets deployed in support of the Province of Alberta's wildfire emergency response efforts. Photo by: MCPL VanPutten, 3 CSDB Imaging EN2016-0060-13. Photo by: MCPL VanPutten, 3 CSDB Imaging
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Aerial view of highway 63 south of Fort McMurray taken from a CH-146 Griffon helicopter on May 5, 2016. The Canadian Armed Forces have air assets deployed in support of the Province of Alberta's wildfire emergency response efforts. Photo by: MCPL VanPutten, 3 CSDB Imaging EN2016-0060-12. Photo by: MCPL VanPutten, 3 CSDB Imaging
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Satellite imagery of the affected area from the Fort McMurray wildfire.
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Satellite imagery of the affected area from the Fort McMurray wildfire. Google / Terra Bella
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Satellite imagery of the affected area from the Fort McMurray wildfire. Google / Terra Bella
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Satellite imagery of the affected area from the Fort McMurray wildfire. Google / Terra Bella
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Satellite imagery of the affected area from the Fort McMurray wildfire. Google / Terra Bella
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Satellite imagery of the affected area from the Fort McMurray wildfire. Google / Terra Bella
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A wall of fire rages outside of Fort McMurray, Alta. Tuesday May 3, 2016. Mary Anne Sexsmith-Segato/The Canadian Press
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Evacuees leave Fort McMurray in the early morning after being stranded north of wildfires which have been raging in the northern Alberta city on Friday, May 6, 2016. Jason Franson/The Canadian Press
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Drivers wait for clearance to take firefighting supplies into town on May 05, 2016 outside of Fort McMurray, Alberta. Scott Olson/Getty Images
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Smoke rises above trees as a wildfire burns in Fort McMurray, Alta., on Wednesday May 4, 2016. Jason Franson/ The Canadian Press
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A wildfire rages through Fort McMurray Alta, on Wednesday May 4, 2016. Jason Franson/ The Canadian Press
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Drivers wait for clearance to take firefighting supplies into town on May 05, 2016 outside of Fort McMurray. Scott Olson/Getty Images
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A wildfire rages through Fort McMurray, Alta., on Wednesday May 4, 2016. Jason Franson/ The Canadian Press
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Smoke from a wildfire fills the sky in downtown Fort McMurray on Sunday, May 1, 2016. Greg Halinda/ The Canadian Press
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Smoke fills the air as cars line up on a road in Fort McMurray, Alberta on Tuesday May 3, 2016. Greg Halinda/The Canadian Press
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A wall of fire rages outside of Fort McMurray, Alta. Tuesday May 3, 2016. Mary Anne Sexsmith-Segato/ The Canadian Press
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Smoke fills the air as a small plane flies overhead in Fort McMurray, Alberta on Tuesday May 3, 2016. Kitty Cochrane/ The Canadian Press
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A wall of fire rages outside of Fort McMurray, Alta. Tuesday May 3, 2016. Mary Anne Sexsmith-Segato/ The Canadian Press
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A helicopter flies past a wildfire in Fort McMurray, Alta., on Wednesday May 4, 2016. Jason Franson/The Canadian Press
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A wildfire moves towards the town of Anzac from Fort McMurray, Alta., on Wednesday May 4, 2016. Jason Franson/The Canadian Press
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The City of Edmonton, area politicians and the Edmonton Economic Development corporation came together Friday morning to hold a pancake breakfast fundraiser for Fort McMurray evacuees. Dave Carels, Global News
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The City of Edmonton, area politicians and the Edmonton Economic Development corporation came together Friday morning to hold a pancake breakfast fundraiser for Fort McMurray evacuees. Dave Carels, Global News
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Evacuees from the Fort McMurray wildfires collect donated necessities at the evacuation centre in Lac la Biche, Alta., Thursday, May 5, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh.
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Evacuees from the Fort McMurray wildfires rest on a hockey rink at the evacuation centre in Lac la Biche, Alta., Thursday, May 5, 2016.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh.
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Evacuees from the Fort McMurray wildfires rest on a hockey rink at the evacuation centre in Lac la Biche, Alta., Thursday, May 5, 2016.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh.
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Evacuees from the Fort McMurray wildfires rest at the evacuation centre in Lac la Biche, Alta., Thursday, May 5, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh.
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Evacuees from the Fort McMurray wildfires rest at the evacuation centre in Lac la Biche, Alta., Thursday, May 5, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh.
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Evacuee from the Fort McMurray wildfires, Chance Jones, an employee of CNRL, talks on a cell phone while looking after his daughter at the evacuation centre in Lac la Biche, Alta., Thursday, May 5, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh.
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An evacuee from the Fort McMurray wildfires holds her dog as she looks through donated items at the evacuation centre in Lac la Biche, Alta., Thursday, May 5, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
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Evacuees from the Fort McMurray wildfires look through donated clothes at the evacuation centre in Lac la Biche, Alta., Thursday, May 5, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh.
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EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was originally posted on Friday, May 6, 2016. It was updated most recently at 10 a.m. MT Thursday, May 12, 2016. 

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