Saturday night I had the opportunity to tour areas of our community that have been impacted by the Lake Country Wildfire. It’s hard to put in words how I felt as I looked at where the fires continued to burn.
The fires came so close to many homes – but were saved by our unrelenting team of fire professionals. These men and women have worked long shifts, climbed rugged terrain, endured hot weather and gusty winds, all while being away from their loved ones with some of them evacuated from their own homes. Communities from all over British Columbia have kindly provided resources and equipment to help save the place we all call home. Wholehearted gratitude goes out to Fire Chief Lee, Deputy Fire Chief Penner, Deputy Fire Chief O’Rourke, crews at Station 71, 81 and 91. I also want to thank our Regional and Provincial Partners in addition to BC Wildfire, EOC, ESS and the RCMP.
There have been at least three structural losses in Okanagan Centre. My heart goes out to the families impacted. As a community we must support these people, as they have suffered immense loss. Community safety is paramount, and we must make sure it is safe before letting residents return home. The first rollback of evacuation zones was announced last night by cordemergency.ca. Chief Lee and his team are continuously re-evaluating the situation and working hard to get you and your loved ones home safely.
There are going to be changes and inconveniences to everyone for the foreseeable future. There are trees that will need to be cleared and removed, roads and utilities that will need to be fixed and extensive cleanup throughout the District. Staff are under immense pressure, and everyone is doing the best they can to manage, while offering limited everyday services to residents.
The destruction to our natural habitat is devastating, but I couldn’t stop thinking how much worse it could have been. When the area under evacuation is opened to the public – you will see what I mean.
I want to personally thank the individuals and businesses that have stepped up to help, you are incredible people, and we are all grateful.
We are a resilient community. We have demonstrated time and time again our generosity, caring, and support for the firefighters, police and all the support staff. You’ve shown how much you care about your friends and neighbours. We are Lake Country.
Fires have happened before and will continue to happen – but we always recover. Please continue to be patient and kind. Check on your neighbours and make sure they are okay and looked after. Consider donating to the Lake Country Food Bank, as they coordinate food and supplies for those in need. Most of all - stay safe.
We are Lake Country.