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October 27, 2017 4:31 pm

Evacuees Focus on ‘Home’ During Townhall Meeting

Monday, July 17, 2017 @ 6:12 PM

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.


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