Williams Lake Developments Stunning
Prince George, B.C. – The gravity of the wildfire situation in the Cariboo was driven home emphatically Saturday night as officials learned of the order to evacuate the city of Williams Lake just two hours prior to their planned town hall update.
One after another the local, regional, provincial and federal representatives expressed their shock and total dismay at the rapid turn of events but promised that they aren’t going away, that every effort is being made to provide evacuees with meals, clothing, blankets, lodging, medical services and the other necessities they may have.
Prince George Mayor Lyn Hall related that things were occurring in such a short time frame in Williams Lake that it wasn’t possible to provide further information at the meeting. However he noted the City will get that information out as soon as possible via social media, Facebook and the City website.
One of the key officials at the first town hall on Thursday, Cariboo Fire Center deputy manager, Mark Hamm, couldn’t be there because he was being evacuated from his home in the Laketown.
Hall said Emergency Social Services are going to be extended for an additional 14 days and ESS teams will be fanning out to help evacuees complete and submit their referral forms. He also announced the arrival of 600 hygiene kits from Disaster Aid Canada and said another shipment should arrive July 21st. And He says insurers have committed to being here for as long as needed from 8 am to 8 pm starting today at PGSS. Anyone needing insurance assistance can call 1-844-227-5422.
Prince George-Valemount MLA Shirley Bond gave assurance that details will evolve on the movement of Williams Lake-area residents and that officials in Prince George, Kamloops and everywhere in between are doing all they can to ensure the safety of those travellers.
“We are also grateful. A helicopter went down today (in the Chilcotin) while they were fighting fire and we are incredibly grateful the pilot will be ok. I hope that one of the things we’ll stop and think about are the men and women who are on the front lines, coming from across our country, our province to try to keep our people, property, our pets, our province safe.”
Cariboo-Prince George MP Todd Doherty, who has several relatives, including his mother, and friends in Williams Lake, spent five hours on the phone with them prior to the order “and I have to tell you that it’s absolutely horrifying from what I’m hearing. I know they’re safe but its a volatile situation.” He asked those with friends and relatives in Williams Lake to tell them to leave.
Vice-chair of the Cariboo Regional District, John Massier, says that “pretty much the southern two-thirds of the Cariboo Regional District are either under evacuation alert or order.” He says some of those people would be heading south, some perhaps up here. “I think we’re going to be your guests for a little bit longer until we get a break from mother nature.”
Mayor Lyn Hall closed by telling those in the audience and watching via the internet that “we are in a position to house as many people as possible. You can come to Prince George, we have the services, the accommodations, we have everything that’s available.”