Saskatchewan comes together to support forest fire evacuees
Facebook group formed to connect evacuees to those willing to help
While firefighters battle more than 100 forest fires in northern Saskatchewan, the rest of the province is rallying around the evacuees.
A Facebook group called "Sask Evacuations — Helping Each Other" was started Monday to connect evacuees with those willing and able to help.
"Everybody's pitching in, offering to help out," said Jayme Brandoline, a Prince Albert woman who started the group. "It's nice to see the community coming together."
Brandoline told CBC News people from Regina, Prince Albert, and Saskatoon are sharing what they have, whether it's rides, clothes, food, or laundry services.
Some are even opening up their homes to those who can't find space in emergency shelters.
"Being in a home setting may be a lot more calming," Brandoline said. "I've seen a lot of people offer up their places for people who have nowhere else to go."
Brandoline said some people had to flee their homes without being able to pack the essentials, so this Facebook group helps.
"I understand that a lot of them had just left their homes in a hurry, so they couldn't pick up everything they needed," she said.
That was the case for a group of about 20 people from Timber Bay, Saskatchewan, which is north of Montreal Lake.
'It means the world to us,' says evacuee
Today they received many donations including toiletries, food, and clothes.
"It means the world to us, actually. We're so grateful that so many people are here to help us. I didn't realize how much people would actually come out to help," Wilson told CBC News.
- Daina Wilson, evacuated from Timber Bay, Saskatchewan
Dale Theisen was one such helper. He collected donations from his coworkers at a Saskatoon construction company and bought water and food for the evacuees.
Theisen used to live in La Loche, Sask., a community that's affected by the forest fires. He saw there was a great need for support.
"It feels good to give back to a community that gave back to me," Theisen said. "They're family to me."
The Facebook group isn't the only way to help those affected:
- The Saskatchewan Polytechnic Prince Albert campus is hosting 150 evacuees and feeding 300 people. People can donate food, drinks, toiletries, bedding, and items for babies.
- Saskatoon's Salvation Army Thrift Store is seeking summer clothes for evacuees staying in the Bridge City temporarily.
- Red Cross Saskatchewan says those interested in helping should call 306-668-0720. Volunteers at evacuation centres aren't equipped to deal with donations, so the Red Cross requests they be made through their partners like the Salvation Army.