[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] The wildfire that has been raging in and around Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada, is finally under control, Alberta government officials said this week, but it could take until next year until the flames are finally extinguished.
The Diocese of Athabasca, within which Fort McMurray is contained, alongside the neighbouring dioceses of Edmonton and Ottawa, are continuing to support those effected, with the support of the Canadian Primates’ World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF).
Some 88,000 people were evacuated from their homes as the fire took hold. Two people were killed in a collision as they fled the area. The fire itself has claimed no lives.
“We will be responding in Fort McMurray for the long haul,” Bishop Fraser Lawton of the Diocese of Athabasca said.
The PWRDF has raised almost $82,000 CAD (approximately £49,000 GBP) for relief efforts – most of this is being channelled through the parishes of St Thomas and All Saints in Fort McMurray, which have taken on primary responsibility for the Church’s response.
The US-based Episcopal Relief and Development has also sent funds to help the Church’s work.
“In the coming weeks, months and even years, the parishes in Fort McMurray will help their community to recover from the fires,” the PWRDF said in a statement. “One significant part of that recovery will involve psychosocial support – helping people to cope with the emotional and spiritual pain, fear and anger they may be feeling.
“They are looking into running summer camps this year to help local children address their experiences, and to provide a break to parents who are dealing with re-starting their jobs and homes and lives.”