British Columbia Wildfires
“Thank you for praying for Williams Lake. On July 27, the evacuation order was lifted for the city and some of the surrounding areas. An evacuation alert remains in place. People are trickling back home; some with hesitancy. With the fires not under control, there is still a good deal of anxiety and uncertainty. Currently it is difficult to give an accurate read on the impact of these fires, but significant loss to the lumber industry, cattle, homes and jobs is a given. Please continue praying for the emergency central command – for God’s wisdom and discernment. Pray for those grieving the loss of property and pray for confidence and hope during these times of growing anxiety. Pray also for the most vulnerable in our community. Thank you from Cariboo Community Church.” -Pastor Paul Lomavatu, Cariboo Community Christian Reformed Church, Williams Lake, BC
World Renew is thankful for compassionate churches and volunteers reaching out after the wildfires in British Columbia. Neighbors helping neighbors is always a key part of disaster response.
In some communities fires have been extinguished and evacuation orders have been lifted. In other areas, the fires continue to burn and evacuation orders have been issued.
According to the BC Wildfire Service, as of July 29, there were 151 active wildfires burning across BC. Since April 1, the BC Wildfire Service has responded to 818 wildfires and these wildfires have collectively burned an estimated 426,735 hectares of land. Information on wildfire locations can be found here.
“We know from experience with last year’s fires in Fort McMurray that recovery takes time,” said Bob Laarman, director for World Renew Disaster Response Services. “The evacuee’s immediate needs such as food and shelter are being taken care of by churches, organizations, and the provincial government who have a great capacity to provide those resources. World Renew’s focus is making sure that down the road, those who need help recovering are not forgotten.
“Right now, we are in a bit of a waiting game. While some who have been affected by the fires will have the means and resources to recover, there will be those who will need outside support such as individuals and families with physical or financial limitations.” These are the fire survivors with whom World Renew DRS seeks to support in the coming months or years.
Mike Hoyer and John Vanderhoek are World Renew volunteers who live in British Columbia and are lending their compassion and talents to the fire recovery. Hoyer is a Disaster Response Services area representative and is connecting with the emergency responding agencies such as the Salvation Army and the Red Cross, as well as the provincial government looking at long-term recovery. Vanderhoek is a World Renew church ambassador and has helped connect with BC churches that were affected by the fire and are helping evacuees and fire responders.
Both Hoyer and Vanderhoek will be attending a September 6, 2017, provincial meeting. “We will meet with other non-governmental organizations in the province along with the BC Provincial Emergency Management Team to determine the direction in which we should head and the role World Renew should take,” said Hoyer.
Donations and church offerings for British Columbia Wildfires 2017 are welcome and will be providing care in the Lord’s name to fire survivors in the months to come. To learn more about the services your gift may support visit worldrenew.net/aboutdrs.
Needs Assessment in Constance Bay, Ontario
“The effects of the spring flood are starting to settle in. The homeowners affected are becoming aware that their recovery will take a long time,” said Bruce and Christine de Boer. The de Boers are volunteers for World Renew Disaster Response Services (DRS) and lead a team of four other volunteers who met with residents affected by spring flooding in Constance Bay.
World Renew DRS worked on behalf of the Constance and Buckham’s Bay Community Association to help connect individuals and families with flood-related needs to local assistance in their recovery.
Many of the damaged homes were in the Ottawa River flood-plain. Flood insurance was too costly for the 23 homeowners who met with the World Renew DRS volunteers. Several homes were destroyed and will need to be rebuilt, possibly in a less flood prone location.
World Renew continues to work with local organizations to meet the needs of flood survivors in Constance Bay.
New Homes in Fort McMurray
“World Renew is working alongside Mennonite Disaster Services (MDS) to bring Fort McMurray residents back to live in Fort McMurray. We hope the homes will be completed by the end of summer,” said Laarman.
Below is an article from MyMcMurray.com regarding the work being done for those who lost their homes in last year’s fire. The original article can be found by clicking here.
Three families that were under-insured or uninsured will soon be able to go home.
The families received assistance from NGOs Supporting Uninsured and Underinsured Residents (NSUUR).
NSUUR is a working group of six non-profits who are helping residents WHO didn’t have adequate insurance repair or replace their home following the wildfire.
After 15 months, the families were able to get the first glimpse of their new homes on July 25, 2017. The houses were pre-built in Saskatchewan and towed up Highway 63.
Two homes were placed in Beacon Hill and one was settled in Abasand
“The excitement kept building as we followed the houses up highway 63 to their destination. It was incredibly moving, and motivating, to see the smiles on the homeowners faces as they watched their homes arrive,” said MDS Alberta Chair Unit, Glen Kauffman.
Over the following weeks volunteers from MDS and World Renew will add decks, hook up utilities, and provide the other work necessary to make these homes ready for their new owners.
They are aiming to hand over the keys to the homeowners before the end of summer.