While the threat of flooding in Hay River is gone, for the most part, there are still people cleaning up from the devastating events of 2022.

But the Rotary Clubs of Slave Lake, Alta., and Hay River Sunrise have gotten together to help the Soaring Eagle Friendship Centre with its efforts to continue helping those who are still trying to get things together.

Both clubs have donated $2,000 each to the centre and the announcement was made by Tom Lakusta, president of the Hay River Sunrise club on Friday evening. The Slave Lake club donated the original $2,000 and the Hay River Sunrise club matched it.

Lakusta said the Slave Lake Rotary Club initially approached the Hay River club in November 2022 to see if there was any way they could support the flood relief efforts.

“They had recalled the unexpected generosity of the people in Hay River after the wildfire in 2011 and wanted to know if there was some way they could help us,” he said. “They reached out to the Hay River Rotarians and we jointly reached out to Rocky Simpson to determine what could be done.”

The MLA for Hay River South suggested talking with the friendship centre and the donation was made.

“After speaking with their executive director (Joanna McKay), it became obvious that they were actively working with people that still had many needs,” said Lakusta.

McKay said that the donated money went toward those who were still facing a difficult time.

“(The centre) was able to provide daily hot meals, hot showers, laundry facilities, clothing, cleaning supplies, transportation, childcare and food hampers,” she said. “We were also able to provide fans, dehumidifiers and other flood related items to community members. The support we received from all over is invaluable.”

McKay also said the centre provided a donation to the Slave Lake Rotary Club to help with recovery efforts following the fire and it was kind of them to graciously return the favour.

That wildfire in Slave Lake in 2011 forced the evacuation of thousands of people from their homes. No one was killed as a result of the fires, but an estimated 40 per cent of the town was either damaged or destroyed by the fire.

Valerie Tradewell, president of the Slave Lake Rotary Club, said Hay River played a role in helping the community re-build and Slave Lake wanted to return the favour.

“I also lost my home to the fire and can appreciate the physical, emotional and financial impacts of a natural disaster,” she said. “The Rotary Club of Slave Lake was very happy to provide a $2,000 donation to the Soaring Eagle Friendship Centre in recognition of the programing and assistance the friendship centre provided residents with the flooding disaster.”

Tradewell pointed to a softball tournament that was held in Hay River to raise money for those affected in Slave Lake.

“Although the town does not have official records of all the donations received, a local resident who has siblings in Hay River who organized the tournament said that over $2,500 was contributed,” she said.

Lakusta said the Hay River club was pleased to simply lend a hand where it was needed.

“We are more than happy to participate in something that helps spread the word that there are still needs with those who were catastrophically affected from the flooding last spring,” he said.

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