Province to Provide Assistance To those Impacted by Wildfires
Prince George, B.C.- It is estimated 14 thousand people have been evacuated from their homes because of the wildfires in B.C.
Emergency Management B.C. Deputy Minister Bob Turner says the province will be providing financial assistance to those impacted by the flames.
“We will be, together with the Red Cross, implementing a financial assistance package to families. The details of that are being worked out at this very moment, and we hope to have more information and instructions out to people very soon on exactly how that will be implemented.”
Turner says the lessons learned from the Fort McMurry fire in Alberta have been implemented “We have been in regular contact, particularly with our colleagues at the Alberta emergency Management Agency. They have offered support we are availing ourselves to that support and we have studied very closely the after action reports from Fort McMurray to ensure we are applying any lessons learned.”
One of the lessons learned is preventing fraud from those who falsely claimed to be evacuees in order to get financial assistance “A lot of lessons were learned from that about verification which have been applied. Since then, we have had a program here in B.C. which the Red Cross lead for victims of flooding. There are various levels of verification including ensuring the people are from the affected areas we are looing at, specifically the geographic areas that are impacted so the first, is to ensure that is in fact where the people were.”
Turner says assistance won’t necessarily be limited to those who are residents from the affected areas “We will have stranded travellers, and we will have other people who have been made vulnerable by the vent and we will be looking at ways to assist everyone who has been impacted by the wildfires.”
During the fort McMurry fires, the Federal Government matched dollars that were donated to the Red Cross, Turner says there has been no confirmation of that sort of funding commitment yet “We are in discussion with the Federal Government on a large number of issues and this will be one of them.”
But there is no immediate end in sight says BC Wildfire Chief Information Officer Kevin Skrepnek, “In the big picture, continued hot dry conditions are expected to continue”. Campfires are now banned across the province, with the exception of Haida Gwaii and the fog zone along Vancouver Island.
Three hundred extra personnel are to start arriving in B.C. today, most are coming from Alberta and Ontario.
“Generally we are still looking at a deteriorating situation” says Bob Turner of Emergency Management B.C “and we are looking at many weeks to come of a challenging environment in terms of public safety.”