Nova Scotia

Red Cross helped more people after Fiona than any other disaster in Canada

New numbers released by the Canadian Red Cross show the organization provided assistance to nearly 100,000 households, more than any other natural disaster in Canada.

Organization says it provided assistance to over 96,000 households in wake of devastating storm

A dark-coloured SUV rests precariously on a culvert and guardrail along a damaged road.
An SUV rests at the bottom of a road washed out by torrential rains from post-tropical storm Fiona in Cape Breton's Richmond County. (Communications Nova Scotia/The Canadian Press)

New numbers released by the Canadian Red Cross show the organization provided assistance to nearly 100,000 households, more than any other natural disaster in Canada.

"With Fiona, it impacted hundreds and hundreds of communities scattered throughout all of Eastern Canada," said Bill Lawlor, the Atlantic director of governance and stakeholder relations with the organization.

Fiona resulted in wide-scale impacts, including massive destruction of property and lengthy power outages.

Thanks to the generosity of Canadians who contributed to the Hurricane Fiona in Canada Appeal, the Canadian Red Cross was able to assist individuals and families from more than 96,000 households impacted by the powerful storm. That campaign raised more than $54 million, including matching funds provided by the federal government.

By comparison, the wildfires near Fort McMurray, Alta., in 2016 saw the Red Cross assist 88,000 households. An unprecedented $323 million was donated in the aftermath of that disaster by individuals, community groups and companies across Canada, including matching funds from Ottawa and the Alberta government.

The organization helped 7,540 households after the flooding in British Columbia that swamped entire regions of the Fraser Valley in 2021. More than $125 million in funds were available to help victims, including donations from Canadians and contributions from federal and provincial government.

"Only through the generosity of those donors were we able to do some of the activities that we had done," Lawlor said. "There were different impacts in different provinces, and we were able to provide a wide variety of supports."

'Very demanding' work

More than 1,000 volunteers and staff were key to the Red Cross helping so many people in Atlantic Canada. They worked together to provide emergency lodging to more than 1,200 individuals on behalf of provincial governments.

They also provided more than 5,700 emergency items to affected individuals and communities, including hygiene kits, cots, blankets and even teddy bears for young children.

"It can be very demanding when we are in response mode, and we are so very appreciative of the 1,000 staff and volunteers who were able to support these efforts," said Lawlor. "Without them we would have had a much more limited capacity and availability to make as much outreach as we did."

A collection of buildings partly submerged in water.
Burnt Islands, on the south coast of Newfoundland, suffered significant damage and storm surge from post-tropical storm Fiona. (Michael King)

The Red Cross also provided support at 33 reception centre sites and conducted 22 mobile visits to impacted communities in partnership with local authorities.

While registration for the Canadian Red Cross financial assistance programs related to Fiona closed in December, Nova Scotians eligible for remaining Hurricane Fiona financial assistance programs have until Feb. 24 to apply.


Paul Palmeter is an award-winning video journalist born and raised in the Annapolis Valley. He has covered news and sports stories across Nova Scotia for 30 years.

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