Earlier this week utility arborists were working in a section of burned out forest near 150 Mile House where fire crews have made good progress keeping fires away from residential areas. (Black Press photo)

Cash donations better way to help victims of B.C. wildfires: Red Cross

Allows flexibility to provide exactly what people need

Anyone wanting to donate to help those affected by the wildfires in B.C. can do so through the Canadian Red Cross.

Andrew Hopkins, B.C. Red Cross communications advisory in Vancouver, said Wednesday that cash donations allow the Red Cross the flexibility to provide exactly what people need in the places they need it. In-kind donations can be difficult to store and process.

The Red Cross is supporting B.C. municipalities setting up reception centres in communities affected by the wildfires by providing cots, blankets, hygiene kits, and other supplies needed to set them up.

The organization started distributing $600 per household financial assistance on Tuesday to help evacuated people who have registered with the Red Cross, Hopkins said, adding this is by no means the end of assistance.

“This is a starting point for people and Canadian Red Cross will be continuing to work to assist people in all of these communities as there are many now that are being impacted by these fires.”

“The big priority for us right now is registration. … We are registering families and individuals in evacuated areas.” The registration number is 1-800-863-6582. More information about registering is available at redcross.ca/gethelp

To make a cash donation, go online to redcross.ca or call 1-800-418-1111. People can also text “FIRES” to 45678. All carriers are supporting this, Hopkins said.

So far about 200 wildfires have burned 400 square kilometres of trees, bush and grasslands. More than 14,000 people have been displaced by the wildfires from Princeton in the south to Quesnel in central B.C.

One of the communities devastated by wildfire was the Boston Flats mobile home park near Ashcroft.

Cariboo Regional District chair Al Richmond told the Ashcroft-Cache Creek Journal that the emergency operations centre has been kept busy with between 2,500 and 3,000 calls each day.

“The Cariboo Regional District has 16 evacuation orders at the moment, we have six alerts,” said Richmond. There are 34,380 people under evacuation order or alert in the region.

“It’s unprecedented for our region.”

The Williams Lake Tribune reported that more than 5,000 people registered with Emergency Support Services in Williams Lake on Tuesday after the city and fringe areas were put on evacuation alert Monday evening. There are 10,000 people on evacuation alert there.

“We have been registering people that are on alert or under an evacuation order,” said ESS director Dave Dickson.

People with mobility issues were evacuated and departed by bus Wednesday morning. If an evacuation order goes into effect in Williams Lake, people will be sent north on Hwy 97 to Prince George, but Canadian Armed Forces aircraft and helicopters are also standing by in case airlifts are necessary.

Getting food supplies to some areas has been a concern. A group of volunteers set up a food and supplies centre at Roe Lake southeast of 100 Mile House.

Jil Freeman told the 100 Mile Free Press that she and some fellow volunteers set up the centre with supplies available for free to evacuees or anyone in need in the area.

“I saw over Facebook that there was a need for supplies in the area, from not only evacuees but also local residents because of the supplies that were diminishing at the store and also because there’s a need for people who aren’t working, so they don’t have the means to be going and spending money on groceries right now,” she says.

barr@reddeeradvocate.com

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