Red Cross money will flow to Fort McMurray organizations

At least some of the tens of millions of dollars raised by the Red Cross will flow into local organizations in Fort McMurray. The United Way in Fort McMurray said it was a "relief to know" the national organization wouldn't just "parachute" into the northern community to offer advice and leave, without sharing some of the $67 million.

'They’re not just parachuting in and out'

Diane Shannon says the Canadian Red Cross will put some Fort McMurray fundraising efforts directly to organizations in the community. (CBC)

The Canadian Red Cross say it's committed to spending the millions raised for fire relief in Fort McMurray, and will not "parachute in and out" of the northern city.

"They can't just offer us advice about the things we need to do," said Diane Shannon, executive director of the United Way Fort McMurray, speaking in Edmonton.

"Their commitment is to invest in redevelopment of that infrastructure in the social fabric of our community and supporting our people right there in Fort McMurray and Wood Buffalo."

The most recent tally for donations to the Canadian Red Cross for Fort McMurray relief was $67 million — a figure that will climb as more donations flood into the organization and as the provincial and federal governments finalize their agreements to match some donations.

They're not just parachuting in and out.- Diane Shannon, United Way Fort McMurray

The Canadian Red Cross announced earlier this week it would be providing emergency funds of $600 per adult and $300 per child from the millions raised. The transfers represent $50-million of the $67-million donated by Canadians.

Shannon said she met directly with Canadian Red Cross chief executive Conrad Sauve this week.

"It was so reassuring for us to know the Red Cross has committed to being in our community with us for a number of years," she said.

"United Way was assured yesterday that the Red Cross considers them a conduit for that money raised by caring Canadians and around the world...They want to work with us as a community to figure out what the local engagement strategy looks like."

The flood of donations to fire evacuees have stressed some Alberta social service agencies that have had to deal with mounds of physical donations, including clothes, food, and essential items. But the money raised for the Canadian Red Cross has also been a point of attention, considering the tremendous amount in the accounts of a single organization.

Shannon said the United Way in Fort McMurray raised $280,000 but the organization urged donors to direct their donations to the Red Cross.

"We knew the Red Cross would mobilize immediately and manage that initial crisis."

Money from the Red Cross will be distributed to partner organizations in the Fort McMurray area in stages, likely over a number of years, Shannon said.