With wildfires forcing thousands from their homes, many have come to Vernon for support and been greeted with an overwhelming number of volunteers.
The City of Vernon’s Emergency Support Services reception centre has received and registered more than 1,600 evacuees.
“This really only tells a piece of the story,” Mayor Victor Cumming said. “Although more than 1,600 people have registered at the Vernon location, our dedicated team of volunteers have processed hundreds of more requests for assistance as service referrals have had to be renewed or other reception centres have requested help. This has been a difficult time for many people and our volunteers have made a big and positive difference in many lives.”
The reception centre has been operating since Aug. 1 to welcome and assist residents from neighbouring communities who have been evacuated due to the White Rock Lake wildfire. As the wildfire situation has evolved and evacuation orders have become necessary throughout the North Okanagan region, the city requested help for the reception centre. And Vernon answered.
Nearly 200 new volunteers have been trained since the call for more help was made, with several more applications remaining in the queue. City staff continue to review and process applications and will be contacting each applicant by email as soon as possible.
Given the current needs of the ESS Reception Centre, some of the applications already received will be placed on hold until a need arises to train more volunteers. Additionally, the city is temporarily suspending intake of new applications.
“Time and time again, when we see a need in our community, Vernon residents respond to the call for help with enthusiasm, compassion and care. This time is no different,” Cumming said. “This is community in action.”