Lloyd's pitching in for fire victims

By Geoff Lee

May 5, 2016 12:28 PM

Border Town races to help evacuees

Lloydminster residents and businesses are scrambling to respond to an SOS from fire evacuees from Fort McMurray as if their own lives depended on it.
With winds blowing fire and smoke from the Fort Mac area into the Lloydminster region today, the local roundup of cash and essential food supplies could take place under a health advisory.
“We haven’t issued anything official yet, but we’re aware of it and are monitoring it,” said Ken Startup,  acting environmental health manager from Prairie North Health Region this morning.
“If we do issue a warning, it would be for high risk individuals, those with asthma and breathing problems to stay indoors.”
Startup works out of North Battleford, from where he told the Source he can see the haze and noted the smoke is getting thick.
“I am sure something is going to come out pretty soon,” he said, adding he’s aware of potential health risk.
Last night the first two families on the escape from their homes in Fort Mac checked into the Microtel Inn & Suites in Lloydminster with six more arrivals expected today.
Manager Ronny Sanorjo said both families were visibly shaken by the ordeal.
“One couple checked in last night with their animals and they said they haven’t had enough sleep and stuff,” he said.
He reported MasterBuilt Hotels, his parent company, made 10 rooms available in Lloydminster at no charge for six nights including free breakfast.
“We’re getting a lot of donations from the community and there are people offering meals and stuff,” said Sanorjo.
“We’re just waiting for them to come.”
He has forms in-need-families to identify their basic needs, which are being met.
Microtel hotels in Whitecourt and Bonnyville are nearly 100 per cent booked, with evacuees given free hospitality there as well, reported Sanorjo.
Chris Jacobsen, operations manager of Lloydminster’s Titanium Tubing, got back in town at 3 a.m. Thursday morning after he and a fellow employee delivered a 40-ft. C-Can container — loaded with supplies — to Wandering River south of Fort Mac.
“Yesterday, we sent 14,000-lbs of water and diapers and food – we pretty much cleaned Sobey’s out,” said Jacobsen.
“We unloaded it at the fire hall and drove back.”
From his eye witness report, his impression was they saw a “lot of lost souls.”
He made a point of adding that, despite everything that’s happened in Fort Mac with the wildfires, most of the people he met still showed positive attitudes.
“We were welcomed with open arms,” said Jacobsen.
His employees began loading a second C-Can at 6 a.m. Thursday morning that will be driven up to the heritage centre at Lac la Biche once it’s full.
“We’re shooting for 20,000 lbs of goods today,” said Jacobsen.
“Today the goal is to clean out the Co-op Marketplace.”
Jacobsen’s also setting up a barbecue outside the store to accept donations and non perishables.
Since he and his employees first sprang into action they’ve raised more than $15,000 in cash donations from willing vendors and do-gooders.
Wendy Abbott, owner of A Bit Extreme, an indoor fun centre, is hoping to provide free relaxation for the families arriving in Lloydminster.
“We’re under the impression there are six families in town; so far so we’ve offered them to come here for free and offer rides if need be,” said Abbott.
The fun house is also giving 50 per cent off for anyone that brings in donations for the Fort Mac cause.
“I have a large family and if we were displaced—it’s heart wrenching,” said Abbott, explaining her motivation to help out.
“There is so much outpouring it’s amazing.”
She noted 10 minutes before she spoke to the Source, a man called and volunteered to deliver their donations along with his own.
“That’s amazing,” said Abbott.

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