Vernon will be a temporary home to hundreds of BC fire evacuees, with many of them expected to be from Williams Lake.
The entire city of over ten thousand residents was evacuated Saturday night.
The estimated total number of people evacuated by fires is estimated at over 37,000.
Two-hundred and 39 cots have been set up at at the Curling Club for families, seniors and people with disabilities, while single men and women are being housed at the Civic Arena where there is 195 cots, which come complete with a pillow, a sheet, and toiletries.
Sites for another 400 cots are being looked into by the city, which could include schools or churches.
The city’s Emergency Social Services coordinator Luana Kaleikini says the costs are covered by the province.
“All of these cots, the facility rental, all the meals, everything, the costs are covered by the province of BC under Emergency Management BC,” says Kaleikini.
Pets will be located in the outdoor rink at the Rec Centre.
All evacuees are asked to first check in at the curling club reception centre when they arrive in town.
Photos: Cots ready for use Vernon Curling Club in first two photos, pet care area in outdoor rink and set up at the Civic Arena
The club’s parking lot will be undergoing an upgrade starting Monday, but people can park by the Rec Centre or Performing Arts Centre.
Kaleikini says until people arrive and walk in the door, they won’t know how many evacuees they will see.
“They (province and RCMP) don’t have any way to assign that right now.”
Kaleikini says any citizens who want to help the evacuees are asked to visit the curling rink and write their service on a white board out front.
“The evacuees will see that as they come into the building and they can make their own contact if need be. There is one message that says ‘Have a pasture large enough for ten horses, ‘Have a yard large enough for an RV’, so it’s a wide variety of things.”
No donations of any items are being taken at this point, not until a system is set up for that.
“At this time, the City and Emergency Social Services (ESS) do not have the capacity to receive donations of goods, gift cards or food,” says City spokesperson Tanya Laing Gahr. “We thank the community for their desire to help incoming evacuees and ask for patience while we work to coordinate all of the necessary systems. If you would like to donate to agencies that are helping to provide support to evacuees, we encourage you to donate to Salvation Army or Red Cross.”
Vernon Emergency Social Services requesting community members that have ESS or EM experience and are willing to volunteer to contact ESSVolunteer@vernon.ca.