By Treena Mielke
The devastating fires that have forced the evacuation of thousands of people in Fort McMurray sparked the memory of the Slave Lake fire five years prior for a Rimbey area couple and once again, they want to do their part to make a difference.
Beth Johnston and her husband Kelly had family in Slave Lake who lost their home and all their possessions in the fire and the Rimbey couple had organized a donation drive to help out the community at that time.
Johnson said victims of such a fire go through terrible trauma, which lasts for years.
“This fire has brought back so many memories for our family as we had family members who lost it all in the Slave Lake fires. It took them years to get better,” she said. “It was simply devastating. My family and friends together organized a cargo trailer full of clothes and supplies and the boys and I took it north Slave Lake in 2011.”
Johnson noted the fire has hit a community that has already been hard by the downturn in the economy.
She said a call came in at the insurance agency where she works today from someone who had lost their home and possessions in the fire.
“Unfortunately, not everyone even has insurance,” she said.
Those who want to help with donations for the Fort McMurray fire victims may drop off clothes, blankets, pet supplies, toiletries and other items at Sugar Bells Bakery in Sylvan Lake and Golden Horizon Wellness Centre in The Sylvan Lake Medical Centre at 5007 – 46 Street, Suite 213.
Those interested in donating may also call Kelly at 403-596-4074.
Meanwhile, news of the devastating effects of the fire at Fort McMurray is far reaching.
Red Deer Lacombe MP Blaine Calkins responds to the situation.
“My thoughts and prayers go to the residents of Fort McMurray and surrounding areas as they must deal with the realities of home while evacuating to other areas of the province.
I continue to pray for the safety of our firefighting crews here in Alberta and I extend my thanks and gratitude to crews who will be joining this fight, not only from other parts of Alberta, but from across our Country.
I am deeply encouraged by the efforts of Albertans to lend their support and help in this time of great need. We are strong, we are resilient, and we will help Fort McMurray to rebuild.
For those who wish to lend their support at this time, I would encourage you to make a financial contribution to www.donate.redcross.ca. Additionally you can help by texting REDCROSS to 30333 to donate $5 from your cellphone.