By Jennifer Smith
More support is being trucked in from Good Samaritan’s from across the country.
Samaritan’s Purse is operating two wildfire evacuation centers in the Thompson-Okanagan and Central Okanagan regions.
Now the group is adding more staff and disaster relief equipment in Kelowna to clean up damaged properties and search for anything that survived the flames.
About 150 homes were damaged or destroyed by the wildfire that ravaged West Kelowna and area. In response to an invitation from Kelowna emergency management authorities, Samaritan’s Purse is sending a convoy of vehicles and staff to the city to equip volunteer teams to remove dangerous debris, haul away spoiled appliances, and sift through the ashes of homes for surviving possessions. All of this is at no cost to the residents.
That convoy will include one of the Calgary-based Disaster Relief Unit tractor trailers, which are specially equipped with safety and clean-up equipment, plus an office to coordinate volunteers and accept requests for help.
Homeowners needing help with their home or property can call 1-866-628-6565. Anyone who wants to volunteer with Samaritan’s Purse can visit SamaritansPurse.ca.
“Our experience helping fire victims has taught us that the opportunity for residents to return to their homes with trained volunteers to safely sift through rubble and recover whatever wasn’t burned is a critical step in their recovery,” said Tammy Suitor, Canadian disaster relief manager for Samaritan’s Purse Canada. “We are honored to be able to help.”
The Christian disaster relief organization already has 12 disaster relief specialists operating the Kelowna evacuation center, at the request of B.C. Emergency Management and Climate Readiness, and another seven staffing an evacuation center in Kamloops.
In the Northwest Territories, all 20,000 residents of Yellowknife have been forced to leave their homes because of approaching wildfires. Many of them went to Alberta, and Samaritan’s Purse is working with the Provincial Emergency Coordination Centre to find ways to support them.
To support Samaritan’s Purse’s disaster relief efforts, click ‘Donate’ on the website or call 1-800-663-6500.
Sister organization, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association of Canada, often works alongside by providing crisis-trained volunteer chaplains to comfort and pray with volunteers, first responders, and people impacted by disaster. Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains are accompanying Samaritan’s Purse staff in Kelowna.
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