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October 27, 2017 3:40 pm

Change in Where Evacuees Can Receive Emergency Social Service Support

Saturday, September 2, 2017 @ 9:43 AM

Prince George, B.C.-  Emergency  Management  B.C.   is  going back to its usual  plan   which  gives specific locations  for evacuees to report to for  Emergency Support Services.

“Because of the scale and scope of the  wildfire event, an exceptional policy was  put in place  this summer, whereby ESS support  could be  attained anywhere in the province for evacuees” says  Assistant Deputy Minister Robert Turner for EMBC.  As of  Friday,   that  has changed.

But,   Turner says  it has been a “challenge”  to sustain  the program  in all of the communities.  “As many  (communities) have  moved to recovery,   and the number of evacuees has  been reduced dramatically,  we’re   going to be  now returning to our standard ESS policy, and that is, that  if  someone is under evacuation order  and needs  to leave,  always in the order it is indicated to which community  people should go  if they require emergency  social services support.   Those evacuated from  today,  ESS support will only be available  in the community that is indicated in the evacuation order.  Those  who have already evacuated and have registered in a community will  be able to   receive extensions to the ESS support in those communities, and specific times  will be posted  where evacuees can receive that extension support but they will not be retaining full time reception centres in all of these areas,  it’s just been  proven to be a significant burden to maintain all  this.”

Turner says the  setting up of  numerous ESS centres earlier in the summer, was a result of the scope of the  situation “There were people  being evacuated from  wide swaths of the province, so  trying to  direct them , with all of the road closures we had,  trying to direct them to a single  location would have been extremely  difficult.”  He says there was also  an outpouring of   support  from communities across B.C. who wanted to help “It was a bit organic,  we had an outpouring of support  from communities across the Province who opened up reception centres without having to be asked,  and welcomed in people.  It wasn’t so much that we made a conscious decision to do this,  as it just sort of evolved. ”

He says now,  things are scaling back to   EMBC’s normal practice “We will retain a very high state of  preparedness and we have ability  to expand again very dramatically and quickly if required.”

Turner says  the Red Cross  data  indicates  that so  far, 30 thousand households,  representing  50 thousand individuals, have been  evacuated at  one point or another.

As of now,  there are 2,600 people who remain  under evacuation order,   a further 14 thousand  are on evacuation alert.


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