CARSTAIRS - The Mountain View Tornado Benefit Concert held on Saturday has raised more than $100,000 for the victims of the Canada Day disaster, said event coordinator Deb Rice-Salomons.
More than 3,000 people of all ages attended the day-long fundraiser.
Held at the Carstairs Memorial Complex, the event featured musical performances from Blake Reid, Liz Christiansen, Grady Brown, the Travelling Mabels, Dustin Farr, the Prairie Mountain Fiddlers and Nolan Ray. Every artists donated their time for the event.
A tornado tore through a large tract of Mountain View County north of Carstairs on July 1, destroying or severely damaging many farm houses, farm equipment, barns, outbuildings, vehicles and other property.
The clean up from the storm is continuing this week, with many hundreds of volunteers having being involved in relief efforts to date.
During Saturday’s benefit, local, provincial and federal elected officials commended the volunteers for their efforts and thanked those in attendance at Saturday’s event.
Red Deer-Mountain View Member of Parliament Earl Dreeshen said, “I want to say to those who lost so much that you have our hearts with you because we understand how significant that loss actually is.
“Having been in the Pine Lake tornado in 2000 I understand what it is like to go through that horror, but I also understand what it is like to have the community come together in order to help pick up the pieces of your lives.”
He specifically recognized first responders and volunteers for their efforts.
“I saw what commitment that have to the community,” he said. “It is great that the community has spent so much time to help.”
Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills MLA Nathan Cooper, whose riding includes the disaster area, said, “In the days immediate following the tornado the thing that was so inspiring was the hundreds and hundreds of people who went out to help their friends, neighbours and sometimes strangers and now today we have people pitching in to help out those who have been negatively impacted by the tornado. It is inspiring to see the community come together.”
Ric McIver, provincial minister of Municipal Affairs, said, “I want to commend the volunteers, the people who donated their time and energy to help neighbours and look after people.”
He also thanked first responders, municipal workers, companies and their employees and others who have helped out.
“Being here today makes me proud to be an Albertan where people come together to help their friends and neighbours,” he said.
MLA Scott Sinclair, whose riding of Lesser Slave Lake includes the town of Slave Lake, which was heavily damaged in a fire disaster several years ago, also addressed the event.
“Events like these are so, so important because they help to rebuild the community spirit and it helps out the families and goes exactly where it needs to go,” he said.
“Thanks from the bottom of my heart I say thank you to all of the people who organized who organized this, all of the volunteers and our wonderful first responders.”
Mountain View County Reeve Angela Aalbers recognized the many volunteers involved in the ongoing relief efforts.
A silent and live auction was held featuring items donated by companies, sports organizations, individuals and others.
Event sponsors included Carstairs and Didsbury agriculture societies, the Town of Carstairs, Mountain View County, Samaritan’s Purse, the Irricana Lion’s Club, Carstairs Elks, Mountain View Colts and concert co-sponsor Dustin Farr.
Funds raised will benefit impacted families directly on a percentage of loss basis, and indirectly through Samaritan’s Purse, a relief organization which had volunteers on site immediately following the tornado, said Rice-Salomons.
More than 100 volunteers were involved in Saturday’s event, as well as about 200 sponsors and donors, she said.
She called the event a resounding success, saying the original hope was to raise $30,000, she said.