Salmon Arm Mayor Nancy Cooper.

Column: Salmon Arm steps up for evacuees

My heart goes out to all those who have been evacuated due to the wildfires. What they have gone through and are still dealing with has been extremely stressful for them.

I have seen this first hand while working alongside emergency social services volunteers at the Evacuation Registration Centre.

I have heard many stories from evacuees about the nightmare of leaving their homes and in the meantime not knowing what they might find, when they are allowed to return.

An additional worry is how they will survive while they are evacuated. Some have told of how they had been evacuated not once but twice and for one couple three times. Others talked about family members who left a couple days earlier and were sent to Prince George, but when it was time for them to evacuate the road to Prince George had now been closed and instead had a very long drive through back roads to get here. Ultimately, everyone is safe but the family now separated, and in times like this really need to be together.

At the evacuation centre, we heard the needs were great and we helped the evacuees with what we could and directed them to available resources.

The evacuees expressed their thankfulness for every bit of kindness shown.

In addition, Salmon Arm you have once again gone above and beyond, as you always do. You have poured your hearts out for the individuals and families evacuated from throughout the Cariboo area, 100 Mile, 108 Mile, 150 Mile House, Williams Lake and all points in between.

You opened your homes and offered your places for evacuees to stay, you offered fields to pasture their horses and you brought in hay for those keeping their horses at the Fall Fair Grounds. You also recognized the importance of their smaller pets with generous offers of pet food as well as care for their dogs and cats.

Some business offered special pricing for evacuates and in some instances, were able to give free children’s passes to events. This past weekend other groups held special events for the evacuees, at DeMille’s on Saturday and then on Sunday a barbecue and fun day at Canoe Beach, organized by Justin Eveline. There were offers of help and donations from all over town.

In speaking to the many evacuees, I want you all to know how much all of this has meant to them – it has made a big difference for them while they are going through this difficult time.

So, thank you Salmon Arm. Thank you for being so you – always caring, and always ready with a helping hand.