211 Calls up in wake of Fort McMurray wild fires
May 12, 2016
Thousands of Fort McMurray evacuees have made their way to Calgary to escape the devastating fires in the Fort McMurray/Wood Buffalo region.
Upon arrival, they have a lot of questions around shelter, food and transportation. How do they get clothing for their kids? Where can they get financial assistance?
Our 211 Information & Referral Specialists have been hard at work answering these questions and directing evacuees to the resources they need. From May 4th – May 11th 34.6% of calls to our 211 information line were related to the wild fires. We have brought in extra 211 staff to help manage the increase in call volume.
But in a heartwarming turn of events, more calls have come in from Calgarians looking to help than from evacuees themselves. They want to know where they can volunteer, donate and how they can offer their homes for evacuees to stay in.
“The response was so quick,” Marii-Heleen Motsmees, a 211 Information & Referral Specialist said. “People started offering things right away, so that’s pretty amazing.”
Marii said that evacuees who have called are also dealing with a range of emotions and are in need of crisis support.
She spoke with one couple who were trying to adjust to a new setting and new routine in Calgary and were feeling completely overwhelmed. Our 211 staff is also trained in crisis intervention, so Marii-Heleen was able to offer support and then transfer them to our crisis line for further help.
“[The wild fires] are a stressful situation, basically a crisis situation, for them,” Marii-Heleen said. “So if they are having a hard time sleeping, or they’re having flash backs, or they just need someone to talk to, they should call our crisis line.”
There are many resources available to Fort McMurray evacuees in Calgary, and a call to 211 can connect them to the one(s) they need. 211 is available 24/7 in over 200 languages. Those outside the 211 service area can reach 211 Calgary at 1-855-266-1605 or search online at ab.211.ca.