Help is on that way.
That is – it is rolling down the highway as we speak.
A Canada-wide social media network of donors and volunteers has truckloads of supplies headed for fire-stricken communities around the province of British Columbia.
Tia Woolmer, one of the originators of the network created during the Fort McMurray fire and who lives near Edmonton, saw an online post about the needs at the Princeton Evacuation Centre.
Tonight the centre is processing another 49 displaced residents and in total 350 properties in the area have been evacuated over the past four days.
She called the centre and asked one question: What do you need?
“We are just so excited,” said Dawn Gardener, head of Emergency Social Services. “I was just flabbergasted.”
The centre requested “basic needs” items – everything from socks and underwear, coolers, adult pull-ups, batteries, baby wipes and pet food.
“What we basically do is just connect the dots of people who have donations and send them to people who need them. It’s all done through Facebook, the internet and Twitter,” said Woolmer.
It may not be the only time the network lends a hand to Princeton area residents.
More trucks from Alberta and Ontario are on their way for BC evacuee relief.
If Princeton needs more help “we will send another truck,” she said.
The BC Wildfire Evacuee Support Group has 3,500 members and invites people impacted by the fire to visit them on Facebook to learn more about the different kinds of help that is available.
“If you are looking to connect with something. If you are looking for a place to stay or if you are looking for information, we update. They are all volunteers and a lot of them are professionals and experts, specially trained in different things. It’s fantastic.”
Jay Woolmer, who is also active in the group, said the trucks with Princeton’s supplies should arrive Tuesday, provided the drivers can get through.
“Those are the real heroes, the drivers,” he said.
The group relies on members of two other organizations, Western Canadian Power Stroke and Alberta F150 to deliver supplies to fire areas.
“These guys are just amazing. They bring their trucks, they cover their own gas and they don’t ask for anything.”
Gardener said she is also grateful for the support of Princeton residents and businesses, who have donated for evacuees and kept the volunteers at the center watered and fed.
“I love Princeton and this is one of the reason’s why,” she said.
Gardener said that four days of being available 24-7 to register people, answer phones and provide assistance has left nerves “a little raw.”
However more workers have stepped forward. “we are training on the fly…and we’ve made up some schedules so that people can slow down and they don’t burnout.”
There are usually 15 volunteers working at the centre at any given time, and about 45 volunteers for the effort in total.