Family searches for homeless woman lost amid Fort McMurray’s massive evacuation

The family of Eleanor Cardinal says they have been unable to track down the 55-year-old homeless woman from Fort McMurray

(Family was searching for Eleanor Cardinal who was in Fort McMurray at the time of the evacuation. Photo courtesy of the family.)

UPDATE: Eleanor Cardinal has been found. A relative spoke to a nurse who said she was on a bus that picked up a group from the homeless shelter, according to the Alberta AFN’s regional office. The office said Cardinal suffered a bout of tuberculosis which damaged her lungs and she was suffering from the high levels of smoke. The nurse said Cardinal is currently being monitored and is resting. The Alberta AFN office said Cardinal was in a group among the last to leave Fort McMurray.

Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
The family of Eleanor Cardinal says they have been unable to track down the 55-year-old homeless woman from Fort McMurray following this week’s evacuation of the city which was triggered by a massive wildfire.

Elizabeth Jackson said Friday she has been searching for Cardinal over the last two days, contacting the Red Cross, the RCMP and Cardinal’s support worker for information, but no one has been able to provide any help.

“We are thinking of her safety,” said Jackson, in a telephone interview from Saddle Lake Cree Nation. “I am scared for her, she has no vehicle, she has no cell phone. I don’t know who she would associate with.”

Jackson said she has given her sister’s name and birthdate to the Red Cross in hopes Cardinal will register as one of the estimated 88,000 evacuees from Fort McMurray.

“So for me, it is confusing and kind of frustrating, but I understand. I am sure they are getting many calls, many calls. I still wait. I am still waiting,” said Jackson.

It’s believed authorities cleared all citizens from Fort McMurray which was evacuated Tuesday after a massive wildfire, which has since grown to 101,000 hectares, spread into the city, devastating several neighbourhoods and destroying at least 1,600 homes and buildings.

Winds are currently pushing the massive blaze southeast of the city, reducing the threat to Fort McMurray, officials said Friday. The wildfire has since been joined by another flare-up triggered by a lightning strike created by fire-induced weather conditions. The wildfire is headed into a more remote forested area, posing no immediate threat to communities or oil and gas facilities in the region, officials said.

Jackson said she believes Cardinal would have contacted family by now if she was in Edmonton, one of the cities that is receiving evacuees, because she knows the city and relatives live there. Jackson also believes Cardinal would have contacted her if she was taken to the evacuation centre in Lac La Biche which sits about 100 kilometres north of Saddle Lake.

“I know she would have contacted me if she was in Lac La Biche, but in both places we haven’t heard from her,” said Jackson.

About 25,000 people were initially evacuated to oil and gas camps north of Fort McMurray, including on the territory of Fort McKay First Nation which took in about 5,000 people. Authorities moved about 7,000 people from the northern camps Thursday by airplane to southern evacuation centres in Calgary and Edmonton and other locations.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said Friday authorities hoped to move about 5,500 people that day by air from northern camps to the south and also along Hwy 63. The only road out of Fort McMurray, Hwy 63 had been closed as a result of the wildfire. At one point the flames created a wall of fire along the highway. Notley said authorities hoped to move about 500 vehicles along Hwy 63 to points south of Fort McMurray.

The vehicles began moving south on Hwy 63 at about 6 a.m. Friday in convoys of 50 cars bookended by RCMP cruisers while the Canadian military providing a helicopter escort from above.

Alberta officials said fire conditions remain extreme across the province which currently faces about 40 wildfires.

Officials said about 1,200 firefighters, 110 helicopters, 295 pieces of heavy equipment, including bulldozers, and 27 water bombers were engaged in battling the wildfires.

Fort McMurray, Anzac, Gregoire Lake Estates and Fort McMurray First Nation remain under mandatory evacuation orders, according to the Alberta government’s latest update.

Notley also said the provincial government would be providing $1,250 per adult, plus $500 per dependent, to those evacuated as a result of the wildfire. It will cost the province about $100 million to provide the interim financial relief.

Officials again said during a press conference Friday that human effort will not be able to stop the wildfire, only rain can bring any hope.

“Right now, we really do need some rain, there is no question about it,” said Chad Morrison, senior manager with Alberta Wildfire Prevention. “Even once we get rain, there is still going to be a lot of fire out there and a lot of work. We will be here weeks and weeks to put that fire out.”

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1 thought on “Family searches for homeless woman lost amid Fort McMurray’s massive evacuation

  1. no media has yet reported on how the homeless or peeps with no vehicle got out of Ft Mac

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