Kelowna’s Emergency Support Services (ESS) centre has seen many evacuees as wildfires burn and grow in the Interior.
The recent rash of evacuation orders for the community of Falkland has had residents scrambling to get out, most of them registering and checking in at the ESS in Salmon Arm.
Some of them, however, chose to go to Kelowna.
ESS director for the Regional District of Central Okanagan Catherine Williams said, since wildfire season began, they have seen many people go through their doors.
“(Evacuees) are coming from all over, from all of our fires,” she said.
“We’ve had (people from) Ashcroft, Oliver, Spences Bridge, Lytton, we even had a lady from Bella Coola who couldn’t get home because of the Anahim Lake fire, so she was a stranded traveller.”
Williams said because it’s such a fluid situation, they’re unsure who will show up next, what they will need, or where they will choose to go.
So far, she added that there is enough emergency accommodation for evacuees who choose to come to Kelowna, but that could change quickly if large-scale evacuation orders come.
“We’re still OK here in Kelowna. It’s busy but with people checking in and checking out, we’re managing,” she said.
She added that the most important thing to remember is to be in communication with friends and family about your evacuation plans so in case you do have to leave your community, they’ll know where you are, and you’ll have a way to store some of your belongings, including pets.
“If you have pets, please try and find accommodation for them (before you come). We are incredibly short on places to (board) pets. There are only so many hotels that will take them, and most of them are full,” she said.
“Please be prepared. These fires are no joke. They move quickly.”
Williams added that while they appreciate donations, they are asking people to donate with gift cards and gas cards instead of physical items.
“The evacuees, when the order is rescinded and they’re going back home, they may need to gas up in Vernon or something, so gas cards would be helpful,” she said.
“Nothing physical, we don’t have the storage space. People can donate to the Salvation Army as well if they want.”