Helping you navigate recent wildfires

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In early June, historic wildfires affected many communities in the Halifax Regional Municipality and Shelburne County. Thousands of Nova Scotians have been evacuated from their homes and many of them are left wondering how their homes or finances might be affected.

As community partners, we’re here to help. Credit union branches have been working to identify members who have been directly affected by the fires to offer immediate payment relief measures and emergency finance options to help ease the financial burden of this crisis. If you’ve been directly affected and haven’t heard from your local credit union, please check your voicemail, email inbox, or call your branch for assistance.

We’re also donating to the Nova Scotia & Atlantic Canada Fires Appeal in support of the relief effort and we’re encouraging our communities to do the same. Every dollar donated will be matched by the Government of Canada. For those affected, we’ve collected resources to help you navigate the recent wildfires, which we’ll be updating regularly as more information becomes available.

Financial assistance

Nova Scotians who have been evacuated from their homes due to the wildfires are able to apply for one-time financial assistance of $500 per eligible household. The relief program, administered by the Canadian Red Cross on behalf of the Government of Nova Scotia is available to any household ordered to leave their primary residence by emergency officials.

To register, call 1-800-863-6852 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. seven days a week, visit one of the registration centres in Bedford and Shelburne open daily between 12 and 7 p.m., or enroll online. When registering, you’ll be asked to share basic information about yourself and your household, including your name, date of birth, and home address.

Small businesses impacted by the wildfires orders may also be eligible for the Small Business Wildfire Relief Program, which provides a one-time grant of $2,500 to small businesses located in the mandatory evacuation zones. The Halifax Chamber of Commerce will also be providing $30,000 to small businesses affected by the fires in the Tantallon area. Small businesses can apply online here.

Regardless of whether you register for these assistance programs, beware that fraudsters often try to take advantage of individuals and communities impacted by a disaster. Remember that the Red Cross, government, and emergency officials will never ask for your banking information, social insurance number, or credit card number for any reason, including to register you for financial assistance. These organizations will only communicate with you via email, phone, or in person and would never ask you to click on a link sent via text message.

Mental health and wellness resources

In a crisis like this one, it’s common to experience a range of feelings and emotions. You may be feeling scared, frustrated, or simply overwhelmed, and that could be manifesting in physical symptoms, too. These reactions may last several weeks and it’s important to remember that it’s okay to ask for help. The resources below are safe places for you to reach out:

The aftermath of the wildfires

For some, the material and financial aftermath of the wildfires may still weigh on them for weeks and years to come. Nova Scotians who have been evacuated will be notified by officials when it is safe to return to their homes and there may be a number of steps to take ahead of, and following, your return home.

If your home has been affected by the fires in some way, a home inventory checklist can be helpful for documenting items that need repairing or replacing as a result of the fires. If the damages to your home require renovations or a rebuild by a contractor, you’ll want to ask them questions about the project before they get to work.

In good and bad times, your local credit union is here to support you. The unexpected expenses and stress that come with natural disasters can be hard to manage. Contact your local credit union to start a conversation about how we can help you.