Filipinos evacuated from raging Alberta wildfire

By Quay Evano, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

ALBERTA, Canada – The enormous forest fire in Fort McMurray, Alberta left residents homeless including many Filipinos who have lived and worked in the town for years.

Victims of the wildfire, Mayee Ramirez and her co-workers, rushed home to be with their families.

“Tumawag kami sa mga managers namin na kailangan namin umuwi at the same time binigyan naman kami ng mga rides para makauwi.  Pagdating namin sa Fort Mac, doon namin nakita na wala na, hindi na makapasok ang mga sasakyan,” Ramirez said. “Ang ginawa namin, naglakad na lang kami, tumakbo na lang kami kung saan malapit iyung house namin kasi iyong mga pamilya namin nandoon.”

Ramirez and other kababayans have been evacuated to Edmonton and are asking for help.

“Sana matulungan kami kasi totally wala kaming dala dalang mga damit at siyempre, wala na kaming maging mga trabaho, wala na kaming babalikan sa Fort McMurray,” Ramirez said. “May katrabaho ako from Abbott side, iyung mga bahay nila doon talaga ay sunog na”.

Some Filipinos, like Mark Ancheta, have decided to stay in Fort McMurray to provide help in any way possible.

“Karamihan ng mga nagtatrabaho sa Fort Mac ay sa mga restaurant at sa mga hotels at mga convenient stores ay mga Filipino,” Ancheta said. “So sila basically ang nagpapatakbo ng town eh, kung wala ang mga Pilipino sa Fort Mac eh parang dead town, dahil lahat nagtatrabaho sa oil patch.”

Meanwhile, other Filipinos in Calgary are worried about friends and co-workers trapped in Fort McMurray, and they wish they could do something for them.

“Right now actually, it’s devastating for me because I talk to those people and I don’t know where they are right now,” Calgary resident Amado Fabrig said. “I wish I could do more but we can’t even go there.”

Philippine Consul General Julius Torres has been in touch with some of the victims, reassuring them that the Philippine government will help.

“Pinaabot natin sa ating mga kababayan nasa Fort McMurray at sa mga karatig pook lalong lalo na sa mga temporary foreign workers na tinatawag na mga Pilipino, na ipagbigay alam lang sa atin ang pangangailangan nila, kung kailangan nila ng tulong, kung ano mang serbisyo ay ipagbigay alam lang sa atin sa pamamagitan ng mga kababayan nating nandoon at isa pa pinagpapayuan natin sila na huwag ipagsapalaran ang sariling kaligtasan,” Torres said.

Filipino organizations and communities in Alberta are organizing fundraising events to help the victims affected by the wildfire.

 

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