BC Wildfires Update

March 9, 2018

Victims of the BC wildfires last year lost buildings, land, and livelihoods in the worst wildfire season the province had ever endured.

“People not only lost homes and structures, but there are also concerns with food security due to the impact on traditional hunting grounds among the First Nations communities. Ranchers lost land, fencing and gates. And evacuees have pest problems because they were away from their homes during the evacuation,” says Samaritan’s Purse Canada case manager Matt Munkittrick. “The losses are tremendous and we look forward to helping equip those impacted with the tools and support they need to recover.”

Three Samaritan’s Purse staff members will be based in Williams Lake to assist the estimated 400 households directly impacted including two large regional districts and 24 First Nations Communities. Assessments have been ongoing and one case manager has already been deployed.

Recovery from disaster is a journey that requires guidance and informed advice. We are helping equip those impacted with the tools and knowledge then need to evaluate their specific situation, leverage the help available using their own resources first, and then access other resources as the situation dictates—all in Jesus’ name.

Samaritan’s Purse Canada is working with local organizations, provincial authorities, and the church to identify and prioritize the most vulnerable people. We are engaging with an Unmet Needs Group working alongside other community groups and churches such as Williams Lake Alliance Church.

Samaritan’s Purse Canada was involved in the immediate response to the BC wildfire assisting 124 families with sifting and clean up while engaging almost 90 volunteers. Over the next two years, we will work alongside organizations such as the Canadian Red Cross and Mennonite Disaster Services, as well as with the local and provincial governments to undertake an intensive case management process.

Our case managers help empower people who lost homes, businesses, and livelihoods navigate the often complex processes that provide access to assistance programs and social services. We are also providing support to local community organizations, First Nations groups, and churches in their efforts to assist families.

At a glance:

  • BC communities endured the worst wildfire season the province has ever seen
  • In total, the BC wildfires displaced 65,000 people
  • The fires destroyed more than 1.2 million hectares of forest
  • More than 500 buildings were lost to the fires including at least 130 homes
  • The fires cost $550 million to fight