Canada’s Fort McMurray fire victims aided by Jewish and Israeli groups

The Fort McMurray fire. Credit: YouTube screenshot.

( Jewish groups in Canada are helping evacuate as many as 90,000 people from the Fort McMurray fire area in Alberta, Canada, where the large blaze has ravaged an area of about 400,000 acres—half the size of Rhode Island—and destroyed at least 1,600 homes and buildings, according to the latest reports.

The Calgary Jewish Federation is donating $25,000 from its emergency relief fund to help those who have been evacuated from their homes, while the Jewish Federation of Edmonton has set up a PayPal account to collect donations to help those who are displaced. Ve’ahavta, a Toronto-based social service organization, has also launched a fire relief fund.

“The needs are tremendous in terms of immediate crisis [supplies] like blankets, food, and shelter, not all of which are being taken care of by the government and certainly not by insurance companies. It seemed pretty clear to us that there should be a Jewish communal response to this crisis,” Ve’ahavta CEO Avrum Rosensweig told the Canadian Jewish News.

The Israeli humanitarian organization IsraAID, meanwhile, on Monday had one volunteer in the affected area and planned to send additional members to Canada to help with relief efforts.

“The minute we have a better sense of what’s happening, we’ll decide how to act,” said IsraAID’s founding director, Shachar Zahavi.

“We’re usually working in developing countries, although we’ve been to the United States about 10 times to help with things like hurricanes and tornadoes…We help fill in the gaps [of existing relief work]…Often, in disaster areas, many volunteers will come help for a week or so but then need to go back to work. But we come specially and we stay for two or three weeks, so that’s an advantage other groups don’t have,” Zahavi said.

Posted on May 9, 2016 .