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‘It’s a lot’: N.W.T. evacuees face long lines as they arrive to Calgary


Evacuees from Yellowknife continue to pour into Calgary with 26 flights arriving on Friday and more coming in after a long journey by car or truck.

The Calgary Emergency Management Agency continues to provide shelter and other supports, but it’s a long, difficult process for travelers.

By the time they reach Calgary, they’ve already been through days of fearful waiting.

Summer Lee Brideau-Dryneck and her partner arrived at the Yellowknife Airport at around 4 a.m. on Thursday.

“By around 2 or 3 o’clock [p.m.] they told half the people to go home and come back tomorrow,” said Brideau-Dryneck. “I’m like, ‘I spent all night staying up. No sleep.’”

Click to play video: 'Evacuation efforts intensify as Yellowknife residents seek escape from smoke and danger'

Evacuation efforts intensify as Yellowknife residents seek escape from smoke and danger

Many others arrived in Calgary, exhausted and hungry.

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“Just waiting for the line to go,” said Izaak Wezin. He joined many others Friday, lined up for hours as they waited to register at the Calgary airport’s evacuation reception centre.

“They keep giving us snacks and food,” said Dennis Scott. “It would be nice to get some hot food I guess. It would have been nice to have it planned out a little better, so we could have our rooms.”

The City of Calgary said Friday’s arrivals bring the total number of N.W.T. evacuees to Calgary to about 3,500. The city has said it has capacity for 5,000.

Click to play video: 'Fort Providence rallies around Yellowknife evacuees'

Fort Providence rallies around Yellowknife evacuees

Hundreds are checking in at local hotel rooms provided by the city.

Evacuees said they are being given $50 per day as a per diem for food.

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“Fifty dollars. I would say that’s a dinner meal in Yellowknife,” said Brideau-Dryneck. “It’s not enough.”

The city said it is working to ensure it’s helping as many people as possible, given the volume of evacuees and the extent of the response.

Click to play video: '‘Run for your life’: NWT residents flee wildfires, find refuge in Alberta'

‘Run for your life’: NWT residents flee wildfires, find refuge in Alberta

It’s leaning on other Calgary organizations like the Salvation Army, who’s hosting 17 vulnerable evacuees from it’s Yellowknife facility at Calgary’s Centre of Hope.

The United Way, meanwhile, is mobilizing resources to provide what supports it can. At this point only monetary donations are being accepted.

“People have lost everything,” said Yvette Biggs, with the United Way. “So how do we connect people to get food, clothing, shelter? A lot also is psychological first aid.”

“There’s a lot of trauma that has happened”

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The Aboriginal Friendship  Centre is also among those on site at the reception centres, preparing for difficult days ahead.

“I don’t want to think of it burning,” said Brideau-Dryneck. “On Canada’s side, it’s an indigenous part and its a lot of historic side for my people. It’s a lot.”

&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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