Terrace Emergency Support Services volunteers Connie Kerby, left, and Sonja Krug take a break in front of one of the emergency reception centres in Prince George.

Terrace Emergency Support Services team helping wildfire evacuees

Volunteers helped out in Prince George and are working with evacuees who have come to town

Emergency Support Services volunteers in Terrace welcomed wildfire evacuees to a mini-reception July 22.

They talked to 15-20 evacuees, who are staying in Terrace and Thornhill and who came to the mini-reception area’s two-hour opening, said Naomi Gourlay, director of the trained Skeena Valley ESS (Emergency Support Services) team for the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine.

“ESS responders are meeting with evacuees to discuss how they can best be of assistance,” said Gourlay.

ESS provides short-term assistance to people who are forced to evacuate their homes due to an emergency or disaster. Two weeks ago, volunteers were in Kitimat and met with about 35 evacuees, she added.

Volunteers helped in Prince George July 11-21, providing assistance and practising their training in a real-life situation bigger than they’ve done before, she said.

“It’s a real eyeopener for our volunteers who have never had any practical experience of this magnitude. We’ve dealt with single family house fires in town but when you see parking lots full of people and RVs and pet services and all of this set up, that’s a lot,” said Gourlay, adding that a group was sent to Prince George July 11.

There were four Terrace volunteers and one Hazelton volunteer who went, and two of the Terrace volunteers remained in there until July 21.

Evacuees who have come to town are being encouraged to register with the Red Cross (1-800-863-6582) and also encouraged to call the ESS 24-hour hotline (250-641-2443), which can provide referrals for assistance such as billeting or groceries, said Gourlay.

ESS is looking for volunteers, and whatever time they can commit to help. “We are welcoming people with all types of skills, experience and ages. There’s always a job for somebody,” said Gourlay, adding that includes people who can help with emergency services for pets and animals.

The ESS Facebook page is Emergency Support Services RDKS and the ESS web page and online application form at the ESS link at the RDKS website.

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