City Preparing for Evacuees’ Trip Home
Prince George, B.C. – The City of Prince George has received mainly rave reviews for how its hosted roughly 10,000 wildfire evacuees from the Cariboo on short notice – the next challenge will be helping arrange their eventual trip home.
(South Cariboo evacuees began leaving Saturday when the evacuation order for their region was lifted Saturday afternoon. The City hasn’t tracked how many have left but say figure it’s a small percentage of how many evacuees are still here.)
“Just how do we communicate to people about instructions about getting home in an orderly way,” said Rob Van Adrichem, director of external relations. “In a way that’s going to enable them to access services at home, as well as the services they’ve been accessing here.”
He said that’ll be a challenge considering just one per cent of the evacuees are situated at the College of New Caledonia.
“They’re all over town and so we’re thinking about how to do that effectively as possible. It’ll involve you guys (the media).”
Van Adrichem noted the message has been ‘how do we communicate in Prince George so people in the city are aware of what’s going on’ though that will likely change soon.
“It’s a new phase of this and that’s going to involve the Cariboo Regional District, the municipalities there, the City of Prince George, the provincial government, the Red Cross. So, we’re starting to talk about that.”
Told one of the 100 Mile House evacuees only learned about his bus trip yesterday two hours prior to it leaving town, he had this to say.
“We’re trying. The evacuation order became an alert on Saturday afternoon and so we had the bus on Monday. We’re trying. Evacuees are all over the place,” said Van Adrichem.
“A number of people had their own wheels, lots didn’t. Some people came up when it was the evacuation order, others when it was just an alert. So, everybody came at different times and in different circumstances.
“So, that means how they go home will be equally in different circumstances and in different ways. Some may go right away, some may wait if they have concerns about air quality. It’s not a homogenous thing at all, it’s very heterogenous in terms of their situations, where they are, and their belongings.”