North Okanagan residents are known for being compassionate and giving and that’s certainly been the case over the past month as wildfires have ravaged parts of B.C.
No sooner did residents have to flee homes in the Cariboo and the City of Vernon initiated an emergency social services centre, which has been operated daily by city staff and an army of 168 volunteers.
“The volunteers have been incredible and come out in huge numbers,” said Luana Kaleikini, emergency management co-ordinator.
Volunteers have processed the paperwork evacuees require to receive assistance while others have looked after pets and set up cots at Civic Arena and the Vernon Curling Club in case an evacuee does not have a friend or relative to stay with.
On top of this, the Salvation Army has rallied by feeding volunteers and evacuees and ensuring evacuees have access to clothing and toiletry items. All of this has been fuelled by local residents who have donated physical goods and cash.
For those staying temporarily in the region, they have been invited to explore what we have to offer, including free admission to the Okanagan Military Tattoo and O’Keefe Ranch.
This isn’t the first time that Vernon has played host to wildfire evacuees but it’s certainly a reminder that when disaster occurs — no matter where in the province — there is a willingness among residents to do the right thing and pull together.
With wildfire season still underway, there is the potential more evacuees could arrive in Vernon, and we’re confident they’ll be in good hands.