Thousands of people displaced by the Fort McMurray wildfire will begin receiving pre-loaded debit cards from the Alberta government and Red Cross in an effort to ease the financial strain caused by their evacuation.
On Wednesday, the provincial government announced it will provide $100 million in emergency funding for evacuees while the Red Cross announced it will contribute $50 million from the $67 million donated by Canadians so far for fire relief efforts.
The province previously announced it would provide $1,250 per adult and $500 per dependent while the Red Cross said it would give adults $600 and each child would receive $300.
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said pre-loaded provincial debit cards would begin to be distributed Wednesday at designated locations in Edmonton, Calgary and Lac La Biche until May 20.
Meanwhile in London, fundraising efforts continued this week with AM980’s brother station FM96 running its own collection drive. From 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Wednesday, staff accepted donations of any amount at the corner of Wellington St. and King St. In exchange for a contribution, Londoners were entered into a draw for a pair of tickets to see Pearl Jam at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto on Thursday night.
A London man named Paul stopped by to make a donation and explained his personal connection to the Fort McMurray wildfire. His son, Zachary, is part of the firefighting team battling the blaze.
“We got our first call when the fire broke out and he said, ‘I’m going in.’ Then on the Tuesday (May 3rd) I think it was, we got a message saying, ‘I’m OK, but it’s very apocalyptic here.'”
Paul said by the Wednesday night, his son’s home had been destroyed by the flames as were many others of many other firefighters.
“Everybody he works with lost their homes and all their possessions so it’s just amazing that they kept going.”
“We’re really proud of him,” Paul said, his voice breaking with emotion.
By the end of Wednesday, the FM96 fundraising drive had collected a little more than $2,000 from Londoners. All of the proceeds will be donated to the relief effort.
With files from Global News