(Instagram - CityofPG)

UNDER EVACUATION: Prince George, Kamloops prepare for long term

Housing, medical care top of list for evacuees with no clear re-entry date in sight

One in a ten-part series showcasing the volunteerism, community and resilience surrounding those evacuated due to the wildfires engulfing parts of the B.C. Interior.

It’s been more than two weeks since Prince George welcomed the first set of evacuees – now a community within a community of 9,300 people – and part of an unprecedented evacuation of 45,000 Cariboo residents to other parts of the province.

The length of the evacuation orders are in the hands of the weather and fire activity of 15 wildfires threatening communities.

B.C. Wildfire Service said it could be “weeks,” but also that weather can be unpredictable.

RELATED: Gustafsen fire 90 per cent contained

Prince George Mayor Lyn Hall says plans for the long-haul are needed – especially where the roughly 600 people staying on cots at the two evacuation centres in town would be housed.

“We can’t have people on cots for months and months, that’s just not gonna work,” he said, adding plans will rely on projections supplied by B.C. Wildfire Service.

“We’re anxious to see what they mean by long term.”

In the meantime, more services are now being offered including laundry and mail services, as well as kids camps.

Pop-up clinics have been set up for evacuees, being run by doctors in the regions – some evacuated themselves.

Williams Lake’s Dr. Joliel Steyl initiated the clinic in Prince George shortly after arriving to the evacuation centre at the College of New Caledonia.

Dr. Steyl, who is an emergency room doctor, has been camping in a local campground with her family like many other evacuees, according to the city of Prince George.

Working at the clinic has given evacuees a familiar face in an unfamiliar time, backed by support of local staff.

“Physicians cancelled holidays to cover shifts,” said Steve Raper, Northern Health chief communication officer.

As evacuees deal with exhaustion, possibly sleeping outdoors and some in close quarters with strangers, the temporary clinic in Prince George has seen upwards of 500 patients.

The Interior Health Services temporary clinic in Kamloops is seeing about 35 patients a day, run by nine physicians, nurse practitioners and assistants.

“We’ve seen all sorts of medical need at the clinic, including chronic illness support through monitoring and assessment, basic wound care, blood pressure issues, anxiety, sprains, flu-like systems – you name it they’ve seen it,” Interior Health spokesperson Tara Gostelow said.

Re-entry process could take time

Prince George and Kamloops have worked tirelessly to adapt to the rapid uptake in local populations – with hundreds of volunteers donating their time and homes.

“In one week our city grew ten per cent,” Hall explained. Kamloops, with a population of about 90,000 people, received a majority of evacuees from Williams Lake last week.

Even when the re-entry process does happen, it’ll most likely happen in phases – with air quality and transportation a few of the things considered.

Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb has also said the lakecity would still be on an alert.

“Able-bodied are allowed in first,” Raper said, noting it takes time to reactivate a hospital.

Currently there are about 180 acute care patients in various facilities in Prince George, and 60 in Kamloops.

“When an evacuation is over, people in our care are traditionally very close to the end,” he said.

Just Posted

Forestry workers set to begin job action in Kootenays

Operations in Castlegar, Cranbrook, Galloway, Elko, Radium, Golden may see job action this week.

Métis Flag flies in Trail on Louis Riel Day

Area students, officials and public attend flag raising at Trail City Hall

Early Trail borrowed a couple of names from the U.S.

Place Names: Connection between Trail and Butte, Montana

First Past the Post is the only option

Letter to the Editor by Dieter Bogs of Trail

Acid tainted vehicles from Trail spills, held for evidence

Contaminated vehicles are evidence in ICBC’s lawsuit against “negligent parties”

Trudeau offers to help Pacific islands face climate change impact

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with the leaders from the Pacific island nations on Saturday during the APEC Summit in Papua New Guinea

‘Toxic’ chosen as the Word of the Year by Oxford Dictionaries

Other top contenders for 2018 include ‘gaslighting’ and ‘techlash’

RCMP bust illegal B.C. cannabis lab

Marijuana may be legal but altering it using chemicals violates the Cannabis Act

Canada defeats Germany 29-10 in repechage, moves step closer to Rugby World Cup

Hong Kong needs a bonus-point win over Canada — scoring four or more tries — while denying the Canadians a bonus point

Avalanche Canada in desperate need of funding

The organization provides avalanche forecasting for an area larger than the United Kingdom

5 B.C. cities break temperature records

Parts of B.C. remain warm, at 10 C, while others feeling chilly

B.C. teacher’s Amazing Race takes students on Canada-wide adventure

Agassiz high school students say they had the experience of a life time

Don’t sign USMCA until LGBTQ language excised, U.S. lawmakers urge Trump

The trade agreement, forged after 13 months of tense negotiations between Canada and the U.S. is scheduled for Nov. 30

US official: US intel says prince ordered Khashoggi killing

Vice-President Mike Pence told reporters that ‘the murder of Jamal Khashoggi was an atrocity.’

Most Read