Kitimat opens its arms, and its hearts, to wildfire evacuees

Emergency Social Services invites volunteers to apply

This weekend Kitimat opens its doors, and its arms, to welcome people fleeing the wildfires devastating the province currently.

Kitimat Emergency Social Services director Morganne Williams said the evacuees will start arriving in Kitimat tomorrow, Saturday, August 18, and will be registered at the evacuee welcome centre in the City Centre Mall.

The evacuees, who all left their homes voluntarily in the face of advancing wildfires, will be welcome by ESS volunteers, as well as District staff and councillors, at the welcome centre on Saturday.

The centre will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and will allow evacuees to register and be placed in accommodation, which currently consists of 40 rooms provided jointly by Hotel MStar, Microtel and The Chalet.

The cost of the rooms is borne by the province, who also provides ESS with funding to deal with the influx of evacuees.

The evacuees will also be provided with meals as part of the province’s assistance.

Hirsch Creek and Radley Park have also been made available to registered evacuees who arrive in RVs and campers.

The ESS, working together with the Chamber of Commerce and Kitimat Tourism, will provide evacuees with a welcome pack, which will include street and hiking trails maps.

While the ESS has a staff of 15, eight ESS volunteers and seven community members assisting, Williams said the ESS can always use more volunteers.

“With the kids’ summer activities coming to an end today and the pool closed, we are looking for volunteers who will be able to help out with providing activities for the evacuees’ kids,” said Williams, adding that this helps especially the children who are already bewildered by having to leave their homes.

She said ESS is also looking for volunteers who can help with the massive admin load, and for people who are willing to act as greeters.

“We also welcome anyone who just wants to help out with general tasks,” said Williams.

Anyone who would like to volunteer is asked to contact Williams by email.

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