Please pray for our staff and volunteers as the Disaster Relief Unit is now set up in Calvary Church in Williams Lake, BC. Read a firsthand account from a Samaritan’s Purse disaster relief volunteer.
Ruth and her husband Les lost virtually everything they own—including their home and the small shop where Ruth creates and sells one-of-a-kind Aboriginal handicrafts—in the wildfire surrounding Ashcroft, BC (about 100 km west of Kamloops).
They welcomed Samaritan’s Purse Canada volunteers and Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains onto their property to help sift through the ashes, and were very appreciative that volunteer sifters were able to recover—including some pottery pieces, bronze art, pearls, and a beloved belt buckle from Ruth’s days as a barrel racer. After completing work on the home, the team presented Ruth and Les with a Bible signed by the entire team.
Samaritan’s Purse Canada is aiding families who lost their homes and belongings in catastrophic wildfires spreading across the interior of British Columbia. Almost 9,300 people are out of their homes throughout the province as 40 evacuation orders remain in place. About 31,000 people are on evacuation alert, meaning they must be ready to leave on a moment’s notice.
In partnership with municipal emergency agencies, one of our specially equipped Disaster Relief Units is on site in Williams Lake set up at Calvary Church, where almost 7,000 people remain displaced from their homes and another 900 were recently evacuated.
“Helping fire victims in Fort McMurray last year has taught us that the opportunity for residents to return to their homes with trained volunteers to help them recover whatever wasn’t burned is a critical step in their recovery,” said Brent Davis, Response Director for Samaritan’s Purse Canada. “We are honored to be able to help.”
More than 154 wildfires are burning in B.C., threatening many communities. Between 45 and 71 properties in the Cariboo Regional District have been destroyed and fires continue to burn to the west and north. Other nearby communities have also been damaged by fire, and Samaritan’s Purse is assessing them to determine potential assistance.
Besides helping homeowners recover personal items from the ashes of their homes, volunteers are also helping clean up fire-damaged properties. 47 work orders have already been completed to date.
Samaritan’s Purse’s Disaster Relief Units, including one based in Ontario and another in New Brunswick, are tractor trailers outfitted with essential disaster recovery equipment including generators, pumps, hand tools, and safety gear for volunteers.
They also serve as volunteer coordination centers, and are equipped with a self-contained office, communications system, and other supplies.
Samaritan’s Purse spent two months in Fort McMurray last summer, deploying 175 volunteers to sift through ashes of burned homes, and remove hundreds of fridges and freezers full of dangerous, rotten food from undamaged homes that had been without electricity for up to a month.
In recent years, we have used donations from generous Canadians to assist victims of a wide variety of natural disasters including several other fires such as the Rock Creek fire in southern British Columbia in 2015, and the 2011 Slave Lake fire in northern Alberta.
We often work alongside our “sister” organization, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association of Canada, which provides trained volunteer Rapid Response Team chaplains to offer comfort, a listening ear and pray with disaster victims when requested to do so. Chaplains are a part of the relief efforts in Thompson-Nicola.
Please join us in this effort. Your prayers and donations enable us to help more people who have lost everything and remind them that in the midst of their tragedy, there’s still a God who loves and cares for them.
Across Canada, many communities struggle with major challenges. They may be facing anything from natural disasters to drug addictions. They may have deep spiritual needs, and local churches that want to reach out but need support. Your gifts will enable Samaritan’s Purse to respond promptly to the diverse and pressing needs that exist across our country.