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The city put together a Halifax Relief Committee Will open a new window in the first hours of the crisis. It worked well in the early days, but it was clear to everyone that the job of helping the hurt, bereaved and dispossessed would take months, even years.

For now, there were immediate and urgent challenges to be met.

As the temperature fell on December 6, people needed clothing right away. Thousands had nothing but whatever they had been wearing at 9 a.m.

Food and fuel supplies quickly ran short.

Social services were already stretched: How could ruptured families survive? And what about those who had been blinded or suffered loss of sight in the showers of flying glass?

The city was not alone. Outside help came from around the world.

The biggest job- rebuilding- was a three-headed monster: thousands of people needed short, medium and long term shelter.

Help from outside

By lunchtime, word had spread of the disaster at Halifax. The first train into the city that afternoon carried medical people who joined the train on its way from Truro. Help from the Maritimes and beyond followed close behind, and in the weeks to follow donations poured in from around the world.

Within 48 hours, trains from other parts of Canada sent carloads of food, clothing, building materials and skilled workers.

American emergency teams--most of them from Massachusetts—arrived as well. They remained for months, and became part of the rebuilding effort. Halifax was front-page news around the world. By one estimate, relief donations eventually topped $23 million. Continue>

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Halifax Relief Commission, interactive feature 70 Years Later Historical Docu-Comic: The Halifax Explosion Inquiry
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Archival materials courtesy of Scotiabank Group Archives.
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Newfoundland was not a province of Canada in 1917, but people there had a special desire to help Nova Scotians in a time of trouble. A fire in 1892 had razed much of the capital city, St. John's, and many Newfoundlanders remembered the help that had come from the province across the Cabot Strait.

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