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Vernon’s ESS reception centre closing as number of evacuees dwindles

Banner for people to express their appreciation for emergency responders and ESS volunteers
A thank-you banner has been placed inside Kal Tire Place Arena in Vernon for folks to sign to show their appreciation for volunteers who helped wildfire evacuees for more than two weeks. The Vernon ESS reception centre has closed down Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)

Vernon’s Emergency Support Services (ESS) reception centre is closing at 2 p.m. today, Aug. 31.

The reception centre at Kal Tire Place Arena was opened on Aug. 17 to assist evacuees from the Central Okanagan and Shuswap who were displaced by wildfires.

While some evacuation orders remain in place in neighbouring communities, the number of evacuees seeking help from the reception centre has decreased significantly, the City of Vernon said.

Residents can contact their municipality, regional district or First Nation’s office if they need further assistance or if they have questions related to the status of evacuation orders and alerts, re-entry plans or community recovery efforts.

Since Aug. 17, Vernon’s ESS program has helped over 2,400 evacuees, primarily from West Kelowna, Kelowna, Lake Country and other nearby areas.

This is slightly fewer than the 3,000 evacuees the reception centre assisted over six weeks during the White Rock Lake wildfire in 2021.

“This exceptional response is possible thanks in large part to the efforts of a strongly dedicated team of volunteers,” the city said.

“The city would like to thank every volunteer, staff member, local service provider, community organization that helped make the reception centre operation possible and provided caring and compassionate service for those who have faced incredibly difficult circumstances.”

A thank-you banner provided by Wayside is now at Kal Tire Place. It’s there for people to express their appreciation for emergency responders and ESS volunteers. People are welcome to come by Kal Tire Place and sign the banner.

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Brendan Shykora
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Brendan Shykora

About the Author: Brendan Shykora

I started as a carrier at the age of 8. In 2019 graduated from the Master of Journalism program at Carleton University.
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