Generous donors like you enable Samaritan’s Purse to help northern Alberta wildfire victims

July 3, 2019 • Canada
Samaritan’s Purse volunteers watch while Paddle Prairie Metis Settlement residents Wilson and Jessie Gaucher receive a Bible from a Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplain.
Samaritan’s Purse volunteers watch while Paddle Prairie Metis Settlement residents Wilson and Jessie Gaucher receive a Bible from a Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplain.

“It was shocking that they could even find anything in that mess.”

When a wildfire roared through the northern Alberta community of Paddle Prairie Metis Settlement at the end of May, Wilson and Jessie Gaucher were safe and 70 kilometers away in High Level.

Wilson Gaucher looks over the remains of his home, destroyed by a wildfire.

Wilson Gaucher looks over the remains of his home, destroyed by a wildfire.

It wasn’t until they were allowed back into Paddle Prairie that the elderly couple saw the damage for themselves: 16 homes were destroyed in the tiny community, including their house, barn, tool shed, chicken coop, and granary. In fact, the only thing that didn’t burn to the ground was their horse trailer.

“I was hoping the house wouldn’t burn because all my musical stuff, including guitars, drums, and violins that I play in a gospel band, was lost,” said Wilson, a 78-year-old semi-retired traveling evangelist.

The Gauchers weren’t sure if anything besides the horse trailer survived the scorching flames. Then Samaritan’s Purse offered help in Jesus’ Name.

Thanks to support from donors like you, we were able to clean up fire-damaged properties and sift through the ashes of destroyed homes. The goal was to search for heirlooms and possessions that were undamaged.

Wilson and Jessie Gaucher explain the value of a ceramic plate found in the rubble of their home by Samaritan’s Purse volunteers.

Wilson and Jessie Gaucher explain the value of a ceramic plate found in the rubble of their home by Samaritan’s Purse volunteers.

At the Gaucher’s home, we found a belt buckle from Wilson’s days on the rodeo circuit, two cast iron frying pans, and a ceramic plate that was a gift from a friend.

“It was shocking that they [the Samaritan’s Purse Disaster Relief team] could even find anything in that mess,” said Jessie, 72. “I was so glad to see them trying, wearing their masks and protective equipment.”

Even as they lamented the loss of so much, Jessie was grateful for our help, provided at no cost to her, Wilson, and 14 of the other residents devastated by the wildfire.

“I was so pleased to see folks come from an international disaster relief organization to our doorstep,” she said. “They were so caring and willing to listen and that’s what we needed.”

You can be part of this vital disaster relief through your donations and prayers. Please link arms with us in this work, so that together we can show hurting people “the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life” (Jude 1:21, ESV).

Wilson and Jessie Gaucher pray with Samaritan’s Purse volunteers and with a Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplain.

Wilson and Jessie Gaucher pray with Samaritan’s Purse volunteers and with a Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplain.

More