The long walk to recovery in the wake of 2017 wildfires
Dev Khurana is happy to show visitors his spectacular property in Soda Creek outside of Williams Lake, B.C. His cliff-top piece of paradise is badly scarred; the lot that once accommodated a log home, sauna house, outbuildings and greenhouse is now blackened and barren.
“I am disgustingly dirty all the time, but it feels good to be working and doing something to move forward,” says Dev as he takes a break from preparing logs to build his new home. “Some days, I’m excited about the possibilities, but other days I cry. Some days are just better than others, but I love this property, and it’s my home. I want to retire here someday.”
Communities in B.C. endured the worst wildfire season the province has ever seen in 2017. Those fires displaced 65,000 people, destroyed more than 1.2 million hectares of forest, and consumed more than 500 buildings including at least 130 homes.
Thanks to our Canadian donors, Samaritan’s Purse has the resources to deploy two staff members in Williams Lake working as case managers to assist about 400 families impacted by the fires. We also have two staffers in Fort McMurray AB, helping people recover from the 2016 wildfires there.
Our case managers help people who lost homes, businesses and livelihoods to access assistance programs and social services. We are also providing support to community organizations, First Nations groups, and churches in their efforts to assist families.
A Samaritan’s Purse Canada team initially helped Dev Khurana and many others in the area sift through burned belongings and clean up debris. Now Samaritan’s Purse case managers are helping people continue to recover.
For example, our case managers are also working alongside a family in B.C. that suffered severe damage to their home and fishing resort.
This family has a clear idea of what they need to accomplish and what resources they have to do it, but they are thankful for Samaritan’s Purse’s offer to help provide additional labor to assist with roofing.
“We are grateful for everything we still have and every bit of help we get,” says owner Marc. “We will rebuild. We will get there. It might take years, but we will not give up.”
We also work alongside local churches to support them to be a light in their communities. These church partners have seen amazing blessings in the aftermath of the fires as well.
“While we would never wish what has happened on anyone, it has turned into a huge open door of opportunity to connect and care for the people of our city,” says Pastor Doug Doyle of Fort City Church in Fort McMurray.
“Before the wildfire, we would see around 250 people attend our services,” he said. “Currently, we are getting around 400. Over half of our growth has been from unchurched people, primarily because of how we’ve approached the recovery period, including our partnership with Samaritan’s Purse.”
You can reach out to people recovering from wildfires through your prayers and donations to Samaritan’s Purse. Together, we can show people Christ’s love and compassion.