Evacuees Focus on ‘Home’ During Townhall Meeting
Minister of Public Safety, Mike Morris, addresses evacuees at townhall meeting
Prince George, B.C. – The third townhall meeting for evacuees in Prince George wanted to send a message about the renewal of referrals, but most evacuees wanted to know about what was happening in their home communities.Looking for specifics on fires that forced them from their neighbourhoods, evacuees wanted details on how close the White Lake fire was to Williams Lake, the latest on the Wildwood fire, the status of the Gustafsen fire, and the Hanceville complex fire. The BC Wildfire Service’s Christa Dunley could not offer specifics on neighbourhoods, even though one sensed the unspoken question was “is my home still standing?”.
Evacuees also wanted to know if a rumour about being able to return home to 100 Mile in the coming days was true or false. “I am not going to answer true or false” said Prince George Mayor Lyn Hall ” All I can say is that we haven’t heard this at our EOC level and we have not heard this from the Provincial operational team that we meet with via teleconference twice daily, we have not heard that information.”
Prince George Mackenzie MLA and Solicitor General and Minister for Public Safety Mike Morris could not offer any timelines on when folks might be able to go home “I wish we could say that everybody would be going home tomorrow, but that is definitely not the case. Public safety is our primary concern and the RCMP , working with Emergency Management BC and the Wildfire Service want to make sure that safety is not jeopardized if anybody does go home.”
There are more than 8,000 evacuees in Prince George. While some are staying in group lodging, many are either staying in hotels, with family or friends, or in RVs parked in a variety of sites throughout the community. Jackie Kloosterboer, who is the head of emergency social services for the City of Vancouver, is here supporting the Provincial Regional Emergency Operations Centre. She says the good news is referrals for assistance have been renewed to July 30th, but folks who are able to, must go to CNC to get the new vouchers. She says food vouchers will be for three or four days at a time as most don’t have a lot of space to store the groceries. She says many evacuees with mobility issues have been staying in hotels so a team has been out to visit them at those lodgings to renew their referrals for assistance.
Another townhall meeting has been set for Wednesday evening, with plans to hold one every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday for as long as is necessary.