Albertans rally to help B.C. wildfire evacuees

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WATCH ABOVE: Fort McMurray residents know all too well what evacuees in B.C. are going through, and are wasting no time getting donations to the front lines, and encouraging the rest of Alberta – and Canada, to follow suit. Sarah Kraus explains – Jul 9, 2017

After the destructive fires in Fort McMurray one year ago, Albertans know all too well what their neighbours in B.C. are experiencing as they flee their homes in mandatory wildfire evacuations.

A Facebook page has been created by many of the same people that helped evacuees from Fort McMurray in 2016. It’s called BC Wildfire EVACUEE Support Group.

The group has information about what types of donations are needed, how to get help and provides countless offers of places to stay for those that have already left their homes.

“That first initial 72-96 hours is kind of chaotic. There isn’t the support they’re looking for,” explained administrator Scott Astle.

He thinks people turn to social media because it’s instantaneous.

Astle has worked on numerous relief efforts, and said this time, a lot of residents near evacuation zones have been quick to offer things like gas, shelter or a safe field for animals.

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“Every time I’m set back. I’m proud and surprised at the determination, the amount people will go out of their way, and the expenses they will take on to help one another in a time of crisis.”

READ MORE: B.C. wildfire evacuees say they are in shock

Mark Hiscock is part of a group of volunteers in Fort McMurray collecting supplies for first responders, as well as evacuees in need.

“We loaded just under seven tons of supplies and collected 700 litres of fuel yesterday that were all donated from people who relate to what the people of B.C are facing now,” he said.

“It’s a sad time but also it’s a time that shows how strong people are and how kind.”

Two trucks and a trailer full of supplies arrived in B.C. Sunday morning, hoping to get as close to the fire lines as possible.

“This really hits home for the people of Fort McMurray and as we went through a very similar ordeal last year and remember how much love and support the country gave us that we’d never forget and now we’re playing it forward!”

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Tamara Laverdiere is one of the people currently driving through the Rockies with donations from Fort McMurray.

“It’s a small community and it’s a tight knit community and a very generous community – so when it hits home, the community does rally together and help out.”

READ MORE: B.C. wildfire status liveblog: province-wide state of emergency declared

According to another support group, Ymm Helps British Columbia Wildfires, another trailer is currently being loaded up at 140 Pearson Drive in the area of Waterways in Fort McMurray.

In Edmonton, Rosy Borkowski wanted to do her share to help as well and reached out to local businesses and charities wondering where to drop off donations.

“Of course, today – guess what day it is? Sunday. Everybody’s off. The manager is off. They’re not able to supply us with a parking lot to receive donations.”

She runs the Canadian Angel Network and decided to improvise, opening up her garage as a temporary donation drop off site.

Right now, Borkowski is looking for donations such as diapers, toilet paper, lip balms, protein shakes, eye drops, Tylenol, throat lozenges, blankets, hand sanitizer and baby formula.

“Everything that they left behind after the fire. They just have the clothes on their backs.”

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But perhaps the biggest thing she’s hoping to get is a large amount of bottled water for firefighters and evacuees.

READ MORE: ‘Driving through a little slice of hell’: B.C. residents post video driving fuel through Williams Lake wildfire

Items can be dropped off at 4515 Ave and 209 St – before noon Monday. At that point, a driver with a large trailer from Calgary will be collecting them and heading west.

If you know of other ways Albertans are helping, email and we might add it to our list.

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