Six-hundred and 67 wildfire evacuees — mostly from Williams Lake and other parts of the Cariboo — have registered at Vernon’s emergency reception centre so far.
City spokesperson Tanya Laing Gahr says all the evacuees are being billeted by friends, family or people who have offered rooms camping spaces.
She says the evacuees are travelling to where there are resources.
“Right now in Kamloops they have a situation where they are running out of room to take in evacuees. They are running out of resources. There is a difficult time even finding bottled water in some of the stores there, so they start to come south, to places like Vernon and Kelowna, ” Laing Gahr tells Kiss FM.
Laing Gahr says so far, no one has used the two group lodging sites at the Curling Rink and the Civic Arena.
“We’re quite fortunate that all the evacuees who have come to Vernon so far have either elected to stay with friends or family, have been able to find accommodation at a hotel, or some of our very generous residents have posted information at the ESS reception centre saying they are able to billet people or that they have space for people to camp,” adds Laing Gahr.
Laing Gahr says they’ve been told by the province they will have to keep the shared lodging sites open for at least the rest of the summer.
All evacuees are asked to check in at the Dogwood Gym on 37th Avenue in the Vernon Rec Centre complex which is open from 8 am to 8 pm.
Evacuees arriving after hours can call 250.309.0638.
Service Canada is onsite at the ESS reception centre from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. for evacuees needing to apply for Employment Insurance, update existing claims, or check on Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security Claims.
Interested volunteers are asked to email ESSvolunteer@vernon.ca with a completed volunteer form available on the homepage of the City’s website, or pick up a volunteer package at City Hall. The City has received an overwhelming number of volunteer applications, so potential volunteers are thanked for their patience as these applications are processed.
Donations for evacuees are being accepted by the Salvation Army House of Hope (3303 32 Avenue, located behind Staples). All donations (including clothing, food and monetary) should be dropped off to this location from Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Please specify that the donation is for fire relief when dropping off items to ensure they are directed toward evacuees.
The Salvation Army cannot accept any food items not prepared in a commercial kitchen that has Food Safe designation.