Agencies step in to offer wildfire assistance, information

Agencies step in to offer wildfire assistance, information

Canada Post, Interior Heath, the RCMP, and the TNRD all have messages for those affected by fire.

Interior Health: Hospitals

The Ashcroft Hospital and Health Centre, including the emergency department, remains closed. Reopening will occur only after all building supports are fully functioning, such as phone, water, and cooling systems. Interior Health will update the community when the facility is operational.

Power outages can affect the safety of food and water; food in fridges may no longer be safe to eat. Residents should check food for spoilage and souring. Any freezer food that has thawed should not be refrozen, but tossed out. For additional information on food and water safety related to wildfire impacts, please see tips on the IH website at www.interiorhealth.ca.

Smoke from wildfires is expected to continue. Those with heart and lung conditions should monitor their symptoms and take steps to minimize their exposure.

Interior Health: Relocated patients

Interior Health (IH) has established a call line for families whose loved ones have been relocated from health facilities due to wildfire activity in the Cariboo and Thompson-Nicola regions.

Residential care and assisted living clients, and hospital patients, have been or are being moved from facilities in Ashcroft, 100 Mile House, and Williams Lake. Given the sheer number of individuals needing to be moved to other communities, and in a short period of time, Interior Health has not been able to contact all families.

Family members can call the IH Patient Care Quality Office (PCQO) for information about relocations. The toll-free number is 1-877-442-2001. PCQO staff will respond to calls as soon as possible. Individuals can also make contact by email, at Patient.concerns@interiorhealth.ca.

A number of agencies are working closely together to ensure the safe transfer of patients to temporary accommodations. We encourage the public to monitor www.interiorhealth.ca for further updates.

Canada Post

Canada Post is working on contingency measures to serve the residents of British Columbia displaced by the fires. They will communicate details as soon as possible, as delivery is currently suspended to the areas of: Ashcroft, Cache Creek, 100 Mile House, 108 Mile House, Lac la Hache, Little Fort, Alexis Creek, Hanceville, Nemiah Valley, 150 Mile House, Riske Creek, Miocene, Horsefly, Big Lake, Likely, Williams Lake, Anahim Lake, Nimpo Lake, and parts of Quesnel.

All mail and parcels destined for these locations will be held securely until plans are in place. Canada Post thanks those affected for their patience in this difficult time.

RCMP asks for patience

RCMP resources from around the province of British Columbia are being deployed to assist with a multitude of fires burning in both the Southeast and North Districts of the province. The RCMP’s primary responsibility is to support emergency operations and ensure the safety of people and the communities.

“While we recognize your frustrations with not being permitted to be in or return to your residences and communities, we ask for your continued patience and understanding,” says Cpl. Janelle Shoihet, spokesperson for the BC RCMP. “The fire situation is fluid and continues to unfold and your safety remains our priority. Directions given by emergency personnel are done so to ensure the safety of those living in the communities affected by the fires, communities adjacent to those areas, and the emergency personnel working in the affected areas.”

There are numerous road closures in effect, we ask you avoid evacuation areas to permit those attempting to leave the area, to do so efficiently and safely.

The most up to date information with respect to road closures can be found at www.drivebc.ca. Wildfire information can be found at www.bcwildfire.ca, and Evacuation Orders can be found at www.emergencyinfobc.gov.bc.ca.

The RCMP in B.C. are monitoring the situation and working closely with the B.C. Wildfire Service and other first responders to determine resource needs. Additional police resources will be deployed to support emergency operations. The RCMP also has plans and support in place to ensure police response to non-fire related calls are not impacted.

BC RCMP will continue to provide updates at www.bc.rcmp-grc.gc.ca, and on Facebook at BCRCMPNews.

TNRD donation and volunteer pages

The Thompson-Nicola Regional District (TNRD) is asking residents who are looking to help to connect through two newly created Facebook pages. The TNRD has set up two public Facebook pages: one for people to provide/access donations and lodging, and one for people to offer volunteer services. You can find these pages at “TNRD Volunteer Connections – Wildfire 2017” and “TNRD Donations and Lodging”.

Currently, the TNRD is receiving dozens of calls from residents eager to help and donate. While the generosity is appreciated, the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) needs to keep its phone lines open to serve evacuees and their families as the first priority. The TNRD is hoping the newly created Facebook pages will reduce the number of volunteer- and donation-related calls the EOC is receiving. Reducing these type of calls will mean the EOC staff will have more time to talk with evacuees and their families.

The TNRD is encouraging the public to use the newly created Facebook pages to connect with one another and with volunteer agencies. It is also encouraging volunteer agencies to post opportunities and look for potential volunteers through these pages. It is also encouraging anyone who has already called the EOC with offers of lodging, donations, or wanting to volunteer to post these offers on the appropriate TNRD Facebook pages.

It is important to note that the TNRD will not be vetting posts, will not be posting on behalf of individuals or agencies, and cannot provide logistical support for those looking to drop off donations and/or volunteer.

The TNRD wishes to express its sincere appreciation to everyone who has generously offered their time, has opened up their homes, and who has made offers to donate.

ICBC

ICBC has advice and tips for those affected, or potentially affected, by the recent wildfires.

Customers with insurance claims related to a fire will be dealt with on a priority basis. To make a claim, you can file online at www.icbc.com, or call ICBC’s Dial-a-Claim at 1-800-910-4222, which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Those on evacuation alert should pack all essential ID and documents in preparation for an evacuation. These documents include your B.C. driver’s licence, B.C. identification card, B.C. Services Card, passport, original birth certificate, marriage certificate, and Canadian citizenship documentation. It’s also a good idea to have a copy of your vehicle registration and Autoplan insurance policy. Customers may purchase a temporary operating permit to move an uninsured vehicle to safety.

ICBC’s customer service contact centre is available to answer questions at 1-800-663-3051. Customers are reminded that if their insurance is about to expire, they can renew their policies up to a month before the expiration date. Autoplan brokers outside the evacuated areas remain open for business to support customers through these tough times.

Avoid driving near affected regions. Forest fires can spread quickly. If a road is marked closed, do not continue; back up and use another route. For evacuation alerts and orders, check Emergency Info B.C.’s website at https://www.emergencyinfobc.gov.bc.ca/. For current road conditions, go to www.drivebc.ca.

Teck donations

Teck is donating up to $75,000 to various agencies to support emergency relief efforts for local communities affected by the wildfires in the British Columbia Interior. This includes $50,000 in donations to agencies providing relief services and up to $25,000 to match donations made by Teck employees.

“Our thoughts are with all those impacted by the wildfires in communities throughout the Thompson Nicola Region,” said Greg Brouwer, general manager of Teck Highland Valley Copper Operations. “We will continue to identify opportunities where we can offer support to local communities during this incredibly difficult time.”

Agencies supported through Teck’s donation include the Ashcroft, Lytton, Merritt, and Kamloops food banks; the Canadian Disaster Animal Response Team; the SPCA; the Red Cross; and the United Way.

Donate at B.C. liquor stores

British Columbians looking for a way to support those impacted by the wildfires burning in various areas of the province can now do so by providing a donation at any BC Liquor Store.

BC Liquor Store customers can contribute at the till — in increments of $2, $5, or multiples thereof — with all proceeds going directly to the Red Cross. These funds will help with immediate needs for those affected, such as providing evacuees with shelter, food, and water.

Evacuation alerts and orders have been issued for a number of communities, and there are approximately 220 wildfires currently burning in British Columbia. The extended weather forecast is calling for continued hot, dry weather, with risks of thunderstorms in many parts of the province.

Don’t get scammed in fire aftermath

Thousands of British Columbians have been forced from their homes due to the massive wildfire activity in the province. This, of course, means pressure on support groups like the Red Cross and local community centres. However, when bad things happen, scammers can and will take advantage of people’s good nature.

“We are always on the lookout for scams involving financial donations,” says Evan Kelly, senior communications advisor for BBB serving Mainland BC. “Crooks think nothing of going door-to-door asking for money, and there have been reports of fake Red Cross canvassers in the past. We have seen plenty of fraudulent crowdfunding sites set up as well. It’s easy to do. We just need to exercise caution before handing over money or credit card information.”

The BBB has some tips when it comes to giving in the wake of a major disaster. These include giving to organizations you are comfortable with and have given to in the past; checking with the Canada Revenue Agency to make sure the charitable organization is legitimate; donating via a credit card or an online portal such as PayPal; asking a lot of questions of those asking for money or articles, as well as identification and contact numbers; and asking whether they issue tax receipts.