HASH(0xb49008)

Red Cross says $323M raised for Fort McMurray; three-quarters spent or committed

$323M raised for Fort McMurray: Red Cross

FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. — The Canadian Red Cross says three-quarters of the $323 million raised since a destructive wildfire struck Fort McMurray last spring has been spent or committed nearly a year after the disaster.

The fire, nicknamed “the beast” because it was so fierce and unpredictable, forced 88,000 people to flee the northeastern Alberta city last May. It destroyed about 10 per cent of the community’s structures.

The Red Cross announced Monday that $244 million has been spent or committed, which means contracts or agreements have been signed for recovery projects or initiatives.

“For every single person affected by the fires, it will be a defining moment in their lives. There will always be a ‘before and after’ the wildfires of 2016,” said Conrad Sauve, the charity’s president and CEO.

“It was also a defining moment for the Canadian Red Cross.”

The charity raised $189 million in donations on its own, bolstered by $104 million in matching funds from Ottawa and $30 million from the Alberta government.

Fundraising costs did not exceeded five per cent, said Sauve, who noted that only applies to the agency’s own donations, not the government-matched funds.

Of the funds spent or committed, $183 million is for individuals and families, $24 million for community groups and $28.5 million for small businesses.

Another $2.8 million has been set aside for future disaster planning and preparation. Fundraising costs were $5.7 million.

The Red Cross had to act quickly after the fire. It fielded more than 147,000 calls at 13 call centres and registering 65,000 families for support.

Wood Buffalo Mayor Melissa Blake said the Red Cross was a huge help to residents who fled for their lives — many with few belongings.

“When the gravity of the situation was just starting to sink in for many of us, that’s when the Red Cross funds began to be distributed,” she said.

“Those funds are what helped carry us through the uncertainty of those days and the many beyond.” 

The charity’s help with the ongoing recovery is happening at a much different pace, Sauve said.

“Although the emergency relief needs to happen fast, recovery will take time for Fort McMurray, and we need to be there — and we will be there — to accompany this region throughout its recovery.”

The organization also said it is giving $10 million to the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo to help prepare for future disasters and for safety and wellness workshops.

It is no longer appealing for funds for Fort McMurray.

The Red Cross update infuriated Kate Bahen, managing director of Charity Intelligence Canada, an organization that researches charities with the aim of helping donors get the biggest bang for their buck.

Bahen said lumping spent and committed funds into one category does not provide enough information to donors.

“They’ve blurred two very important categories,” she said. “When you are a charity of this size, you have to report your spending. Don’t confuse that with what your promises for the future are.”

She questioned centralizing so much of the relief effort with one national organization rather than local charities.

“For donors who want their money to help in the disaster phase and not in the sort of a long three-to-five-year rebuild, giving to local charities is much faster and you know how the money is spent.”

— By Lauren Krugel in Calgary

The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Human remains found at Silver Creek property

RCMP have been searching the property in the 2200 block of Salmon River Road for the past three days

Search at Silver Creek property enters third day

A portion of the property has been cordoned off with black landscaping fabric

Man in custody linked to Silver Creek property search

Police are not saying how this search is related to Curtis Wayne Sagmoen’s current criminal charges

Day 2 of RCMP search at Silver Creek residence

Police use backhoe in ongoing search effort at residential/agricultural Salmon River Road property

Residents pay tribute to city’s homeless

He was articulate and well-spoken. He was great at self-reflection. He liked watching the Canucks. And more often than not, he lived at the Howard House Men’s Shelter.

VIDEO: Sears liquidation sales continue across B.C.

Sales are expected to continue into the New Year

New B.C. acute care centre opens for young patients, expectant mothers

Facility aims to make B.C. Children’s Hospital visits more comfortable

Search ramps up for B.C. woman after dog, car found near Ashcroft

Jenny Lynn Larocque’s vehicle and dog were found in Venables Valley, but there is no sign of her

Police officer hit by car, stabbed in Edmonton attack back on job

Const. Mike Chernyk, 48, returned to work Thursday

UBC medical students learn to care for Indigenous people

Students in health-related studies to take course, workshop to help better serve Aboriginal people

Dorsett has 2 goals, assist in Canucks’ 4-2 win over Sabres

‘It was a real good hockey game by our group,’ Canucks coach Travis Green said.

Berry disappointed: Bear tries to eat fake fruit on woman’s door wreath

A Winnipeg woman has taken her berry-embellished wreath down, after a hungry bear visited her porch

Symphony trumpets in new season

Kamloops Symphony makes first appearance of the 2017-18 season in Salmon Arm

Column: Back to the land in the 21st century

By Jim Cooperman, Observer columnist There is a slowly growing movement back… Continue reading

Most Read