Wildfire evacuees can now access a variety of support services at a resiliency centre that the Thompson-Nicola Regional District (TNRD) has opened in Kamloops.
The centre — at #3-700 Tranquille Road at Northills Mall — is open seven days a week, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Dale Kronebusch, Recovery Manager for the TNRD, says the centre is open to anyone affected by wildfire evacuation orders, whether they live in the TNRD or not. “If they’re evacuated, they can come here.”
The centre provides a number of resources for people who have had to leave their home community and don’t know where to access things in a strange city.
“People can connect with child services, and we can direct them to where to go to get a new passport,” says Kronebusch. “The Insurance Bureau of Canada is here, and they’ll sleuth out who your insurance company is.”
He adds that some insurance companies have representatives there with chequebooks. “They can start claims if you’ve received damage, and if you have a clause for emergency funding in your policy you can leave with a cheque if your insurance company is here, and tap into that funding right away.”
Service Canada is on site to start an Employment Insurance claim for anyone who needs that. Service BC is also at the centre, and there are maps to ICBC locations in Kamloops for anyone who needs driver’s licence and other services. “If we get busy enough, ICBC will come here,” Kronebusch adds.
Technical Safety BC is at the centre to help people whose electricity, propane, or gas services have been compromised, and health authorities — including the First Nations Health Authority — have representatives there to answer questions. There is also information about the FireSafe and FireSmart programs, which Kronebusch says is an opportunity to educate people about what to do if similar events happen in the future.
“We hope it never happens, but it’s a changing environment, and these things are starting to ramp up. It helps people be ready for next time.” Recovery resources such as building permit packages will also be available, so that people can start their application and it can be fast-tracked to cut down on the length of the process.
Samaritan’s Purse and Team Rubicon representatives are on site. Both organizations help people find things on their property that survived a fire, and recover them for the owners.
Kronebusch says that a mobile resiliency team offering services will be deployed to locations around the province where evacuees are concentrated, to help them do a needs assessment of what needs to be done. Asked how long the resiliency centre in Kamloops will be available, he says “As long as there are evacuees, we will stay open.”