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Fort McMurray evacuees in Edmonton say they've been forced to spend hundreds on hotels, supplies


Some Fort McMurray evacuees say they're struggling to access supplies and accommodations after leaving their homes and travelling to Edmonton.

Madison Jones says she left Fort McMurray on Tuesday after an order was given to evacuate four neighbourhoods in the south of the city.

After driving to Edmonton she connected with the Red Cross to try and get a place to stay.

"They gave us a hotel over on the west side. But by the time we got there, they had said that all Red Cross reservations were cancelled. Something in their system wasn't correct," Jones told CTV News Edmonton on Thursday morning.

"I just started crying. It's just overwhelming. And I have cats too. And they've just been driving around in my car just trying to figure out what we're gonna do where we're gonna go."

Jones said she paid for a hotel room out of her own pocket on Tuesday and Wednesday night.

She went to the evacuation centre at Clareview early Thursday morning to try and get in touch with the Red Cross.

"They did get us an accommodation. So I'm gonna head there today. And hopefully, it's a different experience."

Chelsea Wood and her family arrived in Edmonton on Tuesday evening after failing to find any accommodations further north.

"We tried to go to Athabasca but on our drive here everybody was full. All the hotels were full. Nobody was accepting pets. We didn't know what to do, so we came to Edmonton."

Wood says she stayed in a hotel on Tuesday night with her three children and her uncle, for whom she's a caretaker.

Her parents stayed in a different room.

She went to the evacuation centre at Clareview on Wednesday morning hoping to get some crucial supplies.

After spending hours in line registering and waiting to meet with the Red Cross, she left without the things she needed.

"I was told that they don't have any resources available," she said.

"They had supply trucks, but there was nothing coming in. They only had a limited amount of diapers and some socks showed up when I was halfway through there. They had no water."

Wood says she ended up spending $800 on supplies at a local store for her family.

"Food, cereal, milk, the basics, a couple of toys for my son, socks because we forgot socks, shampoo, all little necessities. It adds up very quickly."

One of Chelsea Wood's children plays in an Edmonton motel room. (Nav Sangha/CTV News Edmonton)

She says in addition, her family spent $290 for two hotel rooms for two nights and $110 in gas to drive to Edmonton.

"Before I left I paid daycare fees and groceries and didn't have much when we left," she commented.

"A couple of family members, friends were able to help me out with some cash. So that's been helpful."

CTV News Edmonton reached out to the Red Cross on behalf of Jones and Wood, but got no answers.

"For privacy reasons, we are unable to provide information about people we are helping," spokesperson Jason Small said in an email on Thursday afternoon. "We would encourage individuals who have concerns or questions to connect with the Red Cross using the information provided when they register for accommodations."

Wood says she intends to take advantage of free admission being offered by some Edmonton facilities, like Telus World of Science, to entertain her family.

"We're gonna check out Telus World of Science tomorrow. We're just trying to think of things so we're not cramped in the motel."

The City of Edmonton is also offering free admission to evacuees to all city recreation centres, as well as the Edmonton Valley Zoo, John Janzen Nature Centre, Muttart Conservatory, and John Walter Museum.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Nav Sangha and Nicole Lampa Top Stories


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