‘It will ease a lot of the burden’: High Level fire evacuees eager to receive funds from province
Wildfire evacuees from High Level say they welcome financial aid from the province, adding that it will help them purchase critical items during a difficult time.
On Friday, the province announced it would be providing financial assistance for evacuees. Adults are eligible for a one-time payment of $1,250 while dependent children can get $500 each. Evacuees can start applying for the funds Sunday.
Alison Jacobsen incurred other expenses after she fled High Level on Monday with her family and an RV stuffed with supplies.
“It’s been expensive because it always is, living in the north,” she said Saturday.
“You can’t wait for a sale right now. If you need it, you buy it.”
Jacobsen said the funds from the province will make a big difference, adding that it will help with paying off credit cards, buying fuel and keeping the RV generator running.
“It will ease a lot of the burden,” she said.
Ron Kelland is one of about 300 evacuees staying at the evacuation centre in Fort Vermilion, which is roughly an hour away from High Level.
Kelland was working when the evacuation order came down and fled with very little; he said the money from the province will help.
“Right now, I got two sets of clothes,” he said. “I’m going straight to La Crete and [buying] myself some clothes.”
To receive the payments, evacuees must have a personal email account. Those unable to register online can register in person at wildfire support or reception centres.
“It can take up to 24 hours for you to see the money in your account,” Municipal Affairs Minister Kaycee Madu said.
Debit cards will be available Monday starting at 10 a.m.
The fire has grown to more than 100,000 hectares in size but it remains three kilometres away from High Level.
Jacobsen has experienced a rollercoaster of emotions since the town was evacuated earlier this week.
“Stress. Anxiety. We’re scared. We want to go home,” she said.
“We’ve been basically just supporting each other. When you go to town, people know we’re evacuees and they’re willing to help with whatever we need.”
Winds are expected to shift Sunday, which officials said could potentially push the flames closer to town.
For Kelland, it is a waiting game to see what happens, and he is aware he has no control over the situation.
“There’s nothing we can do. It’s up there,” he said pointing to the sky.
“The only thing that’s going to stop this fire is rain.”
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