In May, Alberta experienced an unprecedented natural disaster. The entire city of Fort McMurray, along with nearby communities, were deeply impacted by wildfires. People were evacuated, homes and neighbourhoods were lost, families were separated, and jobs were interrupted, some indefinitely.
Alberta Strong was our province’s response to the wildfires. People across Alberta in all sectors stepped up and demonstrated our shared strength. As residents began to return to the Wood Buffalo area to reconcile, reclaim, and rebuild, they too showed the world that Wood Buffalo is strong.
Nonprofit organizations in Wood Buffalo’s social profit sector have been in the middle of it all; responding to the wildfire, assisting with the evacuation, and the re-entry. These organizations have experienced both sides of this disaster – helping those affected and being deeply impacted themselves.
FuseSocial, Wood Buffalo’s nonprofit backbone organization, shared an update from the sector in August:
We are now nearing the end of month three of post-fire re-entry and even though an astounding amount of work and progress has taken place within our community, there is still a considerable amount of work to be done.
This is especially evident within the Social Profit sector in Wood Buffalo. Agencies are working tirelessly to get back to capacity and to continue their vital work in our community.
As a result of the wildfire, many of these organizations are faced with incredible challenges including funding issues, staffing vacancies, compromised infrastructure and even the challenge of not knowing what the future will hold.
As part of their support and monitoring of the sector over this time, FuseSocial conducted a Social Profit Sector Wildfire Impact Survey.
The survey indicated that, as of July, 57% of nonprofits were fully operating. Returning to normal has been a slow process, with some organizations facing more barriers and delays than others, including relocation, lack of services, or limited human resource capacity.
People pulled together to help with the crises in May and now, nearly five months later, it is becoming a question of endurance for social profit organizations and their staff and volunteers. Survey results indicate that:
- 75% of organizations have been negatively impacted by losses of board, staff, and volunteers.
- 50% of organizations lost staff since the wildfire
- 50% of organizations are unsure if volunteers will return
- 1 in 3 organizations experienced building damage, 1 in 5 organizations experienced equipment damage, and 1 in 10 organizations lost data, including client and historical files.
These concerns, expressed by participating organizations in July, are not short-term issues. Alberta was strong when disaster hit, but support from all sectors is needed for many months to come. Let’s continue to be strong together, and offer our ongoing support to continue to help Wood Buffalo as they need it!
For more information, visit FuseSocial’s website.