“As accounts of chaos and destruction emerge from firestorm-stricken Fort McMurray, Alta., Anglicans across Canada are responding with help including financial aid, practical assistance and prayers.“We’ve had offers of prayers and support from across the country,” Bishop Fraser Lawton, of the diocese of Athabasca, said Wednesday, May 4. Parishes in the nearby towns of Lac la Biche, Athabasca and Boyle were all trying to reach out to evacuees and others affected by the disaster, he said.
On Wednesday afternoon, The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) announced it would provide financial help, in as-yet unspecified amounts, to the dioceses of both Athabasca, in which Fort McMurray falls, and Edmonton, which has been offering assistance. It is also accepting donations toward relief efforts. (Go here if you’d like to make a donation)
“PWRDF will respond through local Anglican channels as the needs become evident in the next few days,” PWRDF said in a prepared statement.
Also Wednesday, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, sent out a call to prayer for the people of the stricken city.”
The Anglican Journal has also spoken to evacuees:
Compton Vigilance, a parishioner of Fort McMurray’s All Saints Anglican Church, said he heard that, after he’d left, smoke alarms had gone off in his house in the city’s Abasand district. He suspected the fire had consumed it and the entire neighbourhood.
“I’m 90% sure that where I live, Abasand, is probably totalled—it’s probably gone,” he said.
“When the adrenaline was flowing yesterday, I didn’t feel anything,” he said. “But this morning…after getting phone calls and texts, it hit us, and with that, we are so thankful that the Lord has given us the opportunity to still be able to serve him and also to help others.
“But it is devastating, very devastating.”
“Yesterday I was at the church, and went for coffee around 12:30 and came back, and the sky was blue, and then it felt like there was a storm cloud coming overhead,” he said. “I went down to see what was going on, and we saw the smoke coming up over Abasand, and so we watched it for a few minutes, and I guess I figured I should get home. I started biking home, and across the bridge—by the time I got to the bridge, it was raining cinders and the whole horizon was on fire, basically.”
Some panic broke out as people realized the urgency of the situation, he said.
Neufeld said he and his family initially had to flee north, where there are few communities other than mining camps, because the highway south had been closed.
“We have four kids, and we have twin babies, so it wasn’t the most relaxing ride,” he said. “We’re all driving away, and in the rear-view mirror the city is on fire and you are wondering what is going to happen.
“It was crazy.”
image from Instagram/stewartstrength, AJ reporters: Tali Folkins and André Forget