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Aug18WedEmergency disaster services provides support in multiple communities. August 18, 2021 by Kristin OstensenAs more than 260 wildfires sweep across British Columbia, bringing destruction and unthinkable loss, Salvation Army staff and volunteers are providing assistance to evacuees and first responders in multiple communities. As of mid-August, more than 800,000 hectares of land in the province had been engulfed by flames and nearly 8,300 homes ordered to evacuate. A further 22,700 homes are on evacuation alert.
Army emergency disaster services (EDS) workers were deployed after a fire destroyed the village of Lytton at the end of June. The Salvation Army’s Kelowna Community Church was transformed into an evacuation centre for Lytton residents fleeing the flames. In partnership with Food Banks BC, the Army has an ongoing operation in the area, delivering food and supplies to more than 500 people in six Indigenous communities located around Lytton. The Army is on standby to support Lytton’s re-entry plan when details are released.
Four hours west of Lytton, the Army is feeding evacuees at the reception centre in Vernon. The Army is also supplying drinks and snacks to staff and volunteers at the provincial donations warehouse, as well as staff and volunteers from the Canadian Disaster Animal Response Team.
In Kamloops, The Salvation Army is providing weekly feeding relief to the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation as they host wildfire evacuees and Indigenous firefighters. As well, the Army’s EDS has been activated to feed up to 100 evacuees at an Emergency Support Services group lodging site in the city.
EDS crews have also been deployed to provide food to hundreds of firefighters battling blazes near Logan Lake and West Kelowna.
As of August 16, The Salvation Army’s EDS has provided 6,000 meals, 10,000 drinks and 5,500 snacks, and helped 27 people with emotional and spiritual care.
“It’s a devastating situation,” says Perron Goodyear, territorial director of emergency disaster services. “Both the British Columbia Division and the Canada and Bermuda Territory are committed to providing support for as long as we’re needed.”