Change in Where Evacuees Can Receive Emergency Social Service Support
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.