Members of Fort McMurray Church are Safe, Some Have Lost Homes

Fort McMurray fire May 1, 2016

As the devastating fire continues to burn through Fort McMurray, Alta., the congregation of Faith Presbyterian is doing their best to move forward during this difficult time, says minister Rev. Lisa Aide.

She told the Record that there has been direct contact with the majority of the 18 families in the congregation. The remaining five are reportedly safe and have been evacuated.

Already, two families have lost everything in the fire, but that number could rise as the fire rages on. The local high school, Westwood Community High, where they worship Sunday mornings, as well as the church manse are still intact are not currently in an area threatened by the fire.

For now, they are just waiting. “We were told to evacuate because of the smoke. We thought it would just be a day or two before we could return home, but now it looks like it could be weeks,” Aide said. They don’t know when the fires will be out, or what will be left of their community when they do return.

According to a CBC reports this morning, the fires on Thursday, May 5, were worse than the day before, and unless there is heavy rain, they are expected to keep growing.

Aide says God is still with them. “No one has died, and the generosity of people has been overwhelming. You see people stranded on the side of the road because their car had run out of gas, and complete strangers would stop and offer them a ride.”

Thanks to social media, most of the congregants have been able to keep in contact with each other, despite the fact that they are scattered around Alberta. Due to the evacuation procedures, their evacuation routes depended on where they lived in the city.

When asked what other churches can do to help them recover from this catastrophic event, Aide requested that they “pray for first responders and firemen who are still out there fighting the fire,” and “give to PWS&D or the Red Cross,” as both organizations are helping residents of Fort McMurray.

“It’s not a quick fix for this, it’ll take a long while to build up and recover, but Fort McMurray is a strong community.”

Photo taken May 1, 2016 by jasonwoodhead23, via Flickr/CC



About Gillian Secord

Gillian Secord is the Record’s summer intern.