An estimated $14.5 million to be spent over the next two years
Over the last year the Red Cross has spent more than $27.5 million on people affected by the June 2013 flood. This money has helped relieve 70,000 Albertans who have had either businesses or homes that were destroyed.
The spending is not over as the Red Cross is expected to donate an additional $14.5 million over the next two years to those who have exhausted their personal finances, and to aid 27 affected communities.
John Byrne, director general of disaster management, says the Red Cross received an overwhelming response from citizens willing to help those in need.
“In terms of Canadian domestic efforts, this is the biggest we’ve ever had since the world wars,” says Byrne. “Every dollar raised for this disaster has been spent on this disaster.”
Byrne explained how the initial $27.5 million was spent over the past year while speaking at a June 3 press conference in Calgary.
The Red Cross response has three stages:
• Emergency and Early Recovery
• Long-Term Development
The initial money spent went to help those who could not meet their basic needs — food, shelter and water. The Red Cross had set up 16 emergency centers and provided assistance to eight food banks.
The Red Cross had over 55,000 requests after the flood, which then led to 70,000 cases across Alberta that needed aid by the end of June 2013. However, the first stage or response, Emergency and Early Recovery plan, helped lower that number to 5,000 cases.
Sue Phillips, director general of Western Canada Red Cross, says, “recovering from a disaster like this is more than just getting people back into their houses. We address needs, not loss.”
Now the Red Cross is starting to plan for the future with its Long Term Development plan. The remaining $14.5 million will go into stimulating local communities and helping small businesses start again.
“It’s all about community,” Byrne says, “these are local business, local people work them — it’s local economy.”
There is an estimated 1,500 business that were affected in Alberta, with 76 small businesses closing their doors for good in the High River area. The Red Cross is offering grants to businesses who are still struggling and to those individuals who need it most.
“There are gaps that we are seeing now, gaps we are now addressing with these community initiatives,” Byrne says.
Conrad Sauvé, secretary general and CEO with the Canadian Red Cross added that “each disaster has a specific face, and every individual is affected in different ways. Different people are still in different phases of recovery.”
The Red Cross is committed to supporting a number of initiatives:
• The rebuilding and restoring of First Nations cultural regalia on the Siksika and Stoney Nakoda first nations. It is also helping with grants for bulk food supplies on both reserves, as well as the Siksika youth program.
• Helping Calgarians with financial support so they can acquire city permits associated with repairing flood-damaged homes. There is up to $7,000 per household available for those who meet the qualifications.
• Community grants are being given to local groups such as Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Association, Calgary Homeless Foundation, YWCA and Boys and Girls Clubs of Calgary, to aid those who were affected
• The High River ownership program will help residents with limited housing options that the Red Cross is contributing through Habitat for Humanity.
“We are now in that final phase were we are working closer than ever with communities, assessing what their needs are heading into the future,” says Byrne, who has worked for the Red Cross for 40 years.
“Recovery from a disaster of this magnitude is a long and difficult process and the Red Cross remains committed to ensuring people and their communities can face the future with confidence.”
- By Victoria Pizarro