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Fort McMurray aid worker helping hurricane victims

Last Updated Oct 25, 2019 at 5:10 pm MDT

PHOTO. Former municipal employee Kelly Hansen is now working for the Canadian Red Cross aiding in recovery efforts in the Bahamas after they were hit by Hurricane Dorian. Supplied by the Canadian Red Cross.

Fort McMurray’s Kelly Hansen is in the Bahamas helping the island nation recover from the devastating Hurricane Dorian.

Hansen is the Director of Recovery Operations for the Canadian Red Cross.

“There are people from all over the world here supporting and putting the affected families and communities at the centre of their work. I’m impressed and thankful to see this level of response.”

Based in the capital city of Nassau, Hansen supports the nation in an ever-evolving role.

“I came, initially, for just a short period of time to assess and provide support to the national society. As needs and programming evolves, we have that ability to see how we can support in the longer term.”

Hansen added conversations between the Red Cross and the Bahamas about term are ongoing.

Redevelopment and reconnecting

Graduating from the University of Alaska Southern, Hansen worked for the Municipality in Economic Development.

Moreover, she served as its senior officer from March 2015 to July 2017.

She also managed the recovery task force after the 2016 wildfire.

“That allowed me to have a very good understanding of various aspects of recovery, so it takes multiple areas of expertise. Every event is so very different and personal for different communities, so you can’t necessarily compare one to the next, but you can pick up bits and pieces.”

Speaking on reaching individuals and communities in the Bahamas, Hansen spoke about her family.

“My family lived in Fort McMurray during the wildfire, so it allows me to connect to individuals and families here. I can recall some of those personal feelings, when we were displaced, and what it meant to start to move forward on your recovery.”

Family support

Kelly Hansen also witnessed reunions of displaced individuals returning home and reconnecting with family.

She recalled similar scenes at West Edmonton Mall in 2016 with residents from Wood Buffalo.

Hansen added support from family and friends is tremendous.

“There’s a bit of a time change; it’s not too bad. I’m thankful I’ve got good family and friends who are taking care of my kiddos, and my husband is helping with that, but really my focus is very much here.”

She added she can send and receive messages from family every few days.

As a whole, Hansen said working towards relief efforts in the Bahamas is an eye-opening experience.

“There are people from all over the world supporting. It’s neat to see that many people come and support, very similar to what we saw in Fort McMurray, realistically. People from all sides of the world coming to help people with their initial recovery process.”

Hurricane Dorian struck the Bahamas, Caribbean, and the Eastern United States causing at least 60 fatalities and $8.28-billion in damage.