For the past three weeks, I have been in Vancouver and on the Islands, enjoying time with friends and family. However like most residents of British Columbia, at 6 pm I make sure I am close to a TV so I can see the latest news reports about the wild fires burning in the interior of the province.
There have been good days when it looked as though the fire fighters were getting the upper hand. But the forests are tinder dry at this time of year and strong winds propel the embers from established fires, starting new ones every day – 15 yesterday – and today another city was evacuated. Some of the fires are so huge they have jumped rivers and highways. Thousands of fire fighters from across Canada are now battling more than 160 fires in BC!
Water bombers loading over one of the lakes
Much of the province is relatively out of harm’s way, and these cities and towns are taking in evacuees. One of them is Kamloops, the place where I will be living until December. On a news channel, I saw footage of suburban streets lined with campers and trailers, and tents pitched in front yards – the Kamloops homeowners were shown running power cords out to the stranded families and inviting them use their bathrooms.
Six Kamloops women have joined together to run a temporary donation centre, operating out of the Sandman Signature Hotel. They provide clothing, food and toiletries to those forced to evacuate their homes.
In Kamloops, sorting donations for fire evacuees
One of the women, Dusti Naud, said she and her friends used social media to spread the word. Their friends began dropping off items, and soon local businesses and others – even from outside the province – started donating items. Independent grocers donated 15 pallets of food, and another relief agency dropped off 16 bags of clothing they had collected.
Jamie Maclean, another of the six friends talked about the gift bags that have been personalized for men, women, and families. “The community has been absolutely astonishing with their donations, with their support,” she added.
Hundreds of evacuees have used the donation centre. “It’s open each day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. We’re here for the people that need us,” Maclean said.
I will be returning to Kamloops on Wednesday. I’m happy that I’ll be living in a community where such caring people live.