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.
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.
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).
Help Samaritan's Purse respond quickly to victims of disasters within Canada, providing not only physical assistance as people clean up and rebuild after floods, fires, and other disasters, but also emotional and spiritual support in the aftermath of tragedy.