Red Cross chiefs re­flect on Fort McMur­ray in Hal­i­fax

Metro Canada (Calgary) - - YOUR ESSENTIAL DAILY NEWS - Yvette d’en­tremont metro | Hal­i­fax

As the first an­niver­sary of the Fort McMur­ray wild­fire ap­proaches, the Cana­dian Red Cross pres­i­dent and CEO was in Hal­i­fax to share lessons learned from the most ex­pen­sive dis­as­ter in Cana­dian his­tory.

“Never could we have imag­ined that what took place in those first early days of the re­sponse would rev­o­lu­tion­ize the way the Red Cross works in dis­as­ters,” Con­rad Sauvé told a crowd of in­vited guests dur­ing a lun­cheon at Hal­i­fax City Hall on Wed­nes­day.

As the dis­as­ter un­folded last May, the Red Cross was asked by the Al­berta gov­ern­ment to reg­is­ter mem­bers of the com­mu­nity of Fort McMur­ray. This was a chal­lenge, as the com­mu­nity had been com­pletely evac­u­ated.

“When evac­uees fled they spread around the coun­try, some evac­u­at­ing to shel­ters in Ed­mon­ton and Cal­gary while oth­ers trav­elled across the coun­try, many to here in Nova Sco­tia and through­out At­lantic Canada to stay with fam­ily and friends,” Sauvé said. The or­ga­ni­za­tion’s team de­vel­oped an on­line sys­tem that reg­is­tered 80,000 peo­ple via 13 call cen­tres across the coun­try (in­clud­ing one in HRM).

“While reg­is­tra­tion is a vi­tal as­pect in any re­sponse, in the case of Fort McMur­ray it was a game changer. It paved the way for ro­bust real-time needs as­sess­ment but also for the largest, fastest cash trans­fer ever done in Red Cross his­tory,” Sauvé ex­plained.

In the first week fol­low­ing the wild­fires, the Red Cross raised $50 mil­lion. In two days, that $50 mil­lion was dis­trib­uted via email cash trans­fers to the ma­jor­ity of those evac­u­ated.

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