Donations to help Boston Flats residents who lost everything and were without home insurance can be accepted at any branch of Interior Savings Credit Union. Barbara Roden

Wildfire News Briefs: How to help Boston Flats residents

Plus where to find supplies, how ICBC, phone companies, and Hydro are helping, and more.

Regular health services return

Interior Health (IH) says that regular services have resumed at the Ashcroft Hospital and Health Centre as of Tuesday, July 18.

Weekend emergency department hours (Friday at 6 p.m. to Monday at 8 a.m.) will resume on Friday, July 21. Residents should take note of the following if they require urgent care outside of these weekend emergency department hours:

In the event of an emergency, call 9-1-1.

Visit the emergency department at one of the following facilities: Royal Inland Hospital (Kamloops), Lillooet Hospital, or the Nicola Valley Hospital (Merritt).

Call HealthLinkBC at 8-1-1 (24-hour service) if you are unsure about your need to go to the emergency department.

Supplies at Community Hall

Thanks to the South Cariboo Elizabeth Fry Society, Food Banks BC, Save-On-Foods, the Four Wheel Drive Association of BC, and others, there is food, water, pet food, cleaning supplies, and more free for at the Ashcroft Community Hall for any area resident in need. The hall will be open Monday to Friday, July 17 to 21, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day.

With so many donations having poured in, the plan is to distribute the food and goods to the surrounding rural areas, including Cache Creek, Bonaparte, Loon Lake, and Clinton, as access opens up. The delivery that went to Clinton on July 14 helped people from Clinton, Canoe Creek, 70 Mile, and 57 Mile, and people came to Clinton for help.

Food and supplies are also being distributed to housebound people through deliveries in Ashcroft, and to the Ashcroft Legion for feeding the Hydro, Telus, and fire crews, as well as anyone else in need. Food has also been sent to Cache Creek for the Emergency Operations Centre at the fire hall.

Thrift Shop helps out

The Health Care Auxiliary thrift shop at 601 Bancroft Street in Ashcroft will be open on Wednesday, July 19 and Friday, July 21 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Anyone in the area who has lost their possessions can get whatever they need at no charge.

Please note that the shop cannot accept donations of large items of furniture. They also cannot accept donations of children’s car seats, strollers, etc. due to safety guidelines.

Help for Boston Flats residents

An account has been set up at Interior Savings Credit Union to assist residents of the Boston Flats trailer park near Ashcroft who lost their homes, but were without home insurance, so that they can start to rebuild their lives.

Donations can be made at any Interior Savings Credit Union branch, using account number 963728. Please remember to bring the account number with you.

Cheques can be mailed (and made payable to account # 9637287) to Phyllis Rainey at P.O. Box 1002, Ashcroft, B.C., V0K 1A0.

For more information, contact Joyce Buckland at (250) 453-9338 or (250) 457-0265, or Phyllis Rainey at (250) 457-0515.

United Way Social Recovery Task Force

United Way Thompson-Nicola-Cariboo is forming a Social Recovery Task Force to help provide long-term support for those affected by the fires. They will be working to establish what support will be provided and how, but in the meantime have two links for people who want to get involved: the Recovery Volunteer Sign Up (http://www.unitedwaytnc.ca/2017/07/bc-wildfire/) and How You Can Help (http://www.unitedwaytnc.ca/2017/07/bc-interior-wildfires-how-you-can-help/).

BC Assembly of First Nations

The BCAFN has issued a statement offering support for all First Nations people affected by the recent wildfires.

BCAFN staff and supports are available at any time to assist, and the First Nations Leadership Council issues regular BC Wildfire updates which contain helpful information and details of support measures for communities. Please see http://bcafn.ca for more information.

Extra calls, data for cellphone customers

If your cellphone account is with Telus, and you are affected by the recent fires, you should have received a notice saying “Telus cares. We hope you have remained safe during the forest fires. Rest assured you will not be charged for any Canada wide calling, text, and data usage beyond what’s included in your current Mobility plan, until July 21.”

Koodoo, which is owned by Telus, is offering the same service, and Bell, Virgin, and Fido are also offering assistance—in the form of more data and free services—to their customers. Contact your service provider for details.

BC Hydro evacuee assistance program

BC Hydro is offering a Wildfire Evacuee Assistance Program. They will be offering “Bill credits” to residential and commercial customers located in evacuation areas, and will apply an automatic credit to their account for the electricity consumed during the period they are out of their home or business due to evacuation order. Customers with questions about their account status can call 1-800-224-9376

“We know many of our customers had to leave their homes quickly to get to safety,” says Jessica McDonald, BC Hydro’s president and CEO. “The last thing anyone is thinking about in a situation like that is turning off lights, electronics, and appliances. We hope our Wildfire Evacuee Assistance Program will provide some financial relief during this challenging time.”

“Flexible payment arrangements” are available for customers under evacuation alerts or orders. Customers who have been evacuated or placed on evacuation alert are able to defer bill payments to a later date, and BC Hydro will waive late payment charges and can set up a flexible payment plan for any charges during this period.

RBC assistance

To support Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) clients impacted by the B.C. wildfires, RBC has put in place a financial program, including short-term payment deferrals on mortgages, personal loans, and credit cards.

Small business and commercial clients will also be afforded special consideration through their RBC account managers. Anyone with questions, or who needs to speak with an RBC representative, can call RBC toll-free at 1-800-769-2511.

ICBC

ICBC has established a special claims service team to expedite and review each fire-related claim. The team is focused on helping those affected, and will determine circumstances where customers’ deductibles and insurance discount impacts will be waived.

For customers with claims:

A dedicated team at ICBC is handling insurance claims related to a fire 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, 7 days a week. You will not need to pay a deductible if your insurance claim is for vehicle damage sustained as a result of being required to use a non-traditional roadway (e.g. forest service roads) to evacuate. The claim will also have no impact on your insurance discount.

The deductibles and insurance discounts will be reviewed on an individual basis for all fire claims.

Purchasing or renewing insurance:

Customers who are on evacuation alert can renew their insurance; but it’s not possible to add new comprehensive or specified perils insurance coverage. It’s important not to let your coverage expire: check your policy, and remember you can renew your policy up to 55 days in advance of the expiration date.

Impacted customers who are unable to visit/call an Autoplan broker for their insurance renewal or questions should contact ICBC’s customer service contact centre at 1-800-663-3051.

Customers may purchase a temporary operating permit to move an uninsured vehicle to safety. Once out of the evacuation zone, comprehensive or specified perils may be purchased for your vehicle. ICBC customers who have purchased a storage policy or comprehensive or specified perils coverage from ICBC can rest assured that their vehicles will be covered in the event of damage from a fire.

Renewing a driver’s licence or road test bookings:

Impacted customers who need to renew or replace their drivers licence can contact the driver licensing contact centre at 1-800-950-1498 for assistance.

Road testing in the affected locations has been cancelled. Once normal operations resume, all cancelled road tests will be re-booked on a priority basis.

Free mail forwarding service

Canada Post is offering a free mail forwarding service to British Columbians who have been evacuated because of the fires.

Impacted residents with a credit card and government-issued ID bearing an eligible postal code can go online at www.canadapost.ca/mailforward. Customers will need to provide a credit card payment in order to authenticate the transaction, but this fee will be refunded in five to 10 business days. Canada Post apologizes for this inconvenience, but in order to make the service available quickly has had to take this approach.

Eligible residents can also go to any post office, in British Columbia or across the country. They will not be required to provide credit card information, just government-issued ID. Retail employees will help with the process.

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