The Resiliency Centre in the upper level of Boitanio Mall will serve all the needs of returning residents.

The Resiliency Centre in the upper level of Boitanio Mall will serve all the needs of returning residents.

Williams Lake Resiliency Centre readies for evacuees

Red Cross, Service Canada, Insurance Bureau of Canada all part of “one-stop care” in Boitanio Mall

As ash falls from the sky around Williams Lake Wednesday morning, all signs around the city are pointing to a possible lifting of evacuation orders.

Officials have been in meetings since early this morning, while out-of-town media crews are beginning to arrive hoping to witness the much-anticipated return of residents, some of whom have been evacuated from their homes as long as three weeks now.

Main intersections are still being controlled by members of the Canadian Armed Forces and RCMP, but now there are signs posted outside Boitanio Mall directing returning evacuees to the Resiliency Centre, when they are allowed to come back.

Dale Kronebusch, manager of the centre, was in the upper level of Boitanio Mall early Wednesday morning preparing for what will be the next step for Cariboo Chilcotin residents.

“It’s a centre that looks after the needs once the immediate needs have been met,” Kronebusch said. “It is a one-stop care for our evacuees.”

When residents enter Boitanio Mall (closest to Save-On Foods) they will be able to access services to their immediate right, which will house all the business needs, or to the left, which will care for all the social needs of evacuees.

In the business centre, Service Canada will be set up to assist those who need access to pension cheques. They will also help those needing to file Employment Insurance claims and ensure they get to the top of the priority list.

Service BC will also be on hand to help residents replace personal identification as needed.

Kronebusch said the Insurance Bureau of Canada will also be set up on the business side of the Resiliency Centre along with as many as 12 insurance companies who are able to start claims and “cut cheques on the spot.”

Utilities companies such as Telus, BC Hydro and Shaw will have booths at the centre as well as ICBC for those who may have lost vehicles in the wildfires.

To the left, representatives from the Ministry of Children and Family Development will be on hand to assist those, for example, with foster children in their care, as well as the Ministry of Social Sustainability.

Kronebusch said local First Nations governments will also be set up at the centre, along with Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC).

Also available to anyone at the centre will be mental health services, a church faith group and the Women’s Contact Centre. There will also be counsellors roaming the facility to assist those in need, including volunteers and staff.

When the evacuation order is lifted, Kronebusch said residents should go home first. The Resiliency Centre will be opened the first morning following the rescinding of the order from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m., and every day after that as needed.

Of course, the largest component of the Resiliency Centre will be the Red Cross.

Kronebusch said the Red Cross is staging six interview areas for needs assessments. That would include payments for those who haven’t received any yet as well as the $300 stipend families will receive upon their return home.

As well, returning evacuees can expected to get everything they need to clean their homes upon their return.

Two kits will be given to residents. The first is an “After Fire Kit” which has masks, gloves, a flashlight, cleaner and the like.

The second is a “Cleaning Kit” which consists of brooms, squeegees, a scrub brush, masks, rubber gloves and a mop in a large white wash bucket.

Every member of the family will also receive a hygiene tote which consists of a toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo and soap.

Kronebusch said Red Cross will be accessible by appointment only, which should be made in person at the centre. He expects they can process about 10 people per hour through appointments.

“We will run into some issues with staffing but we will see how it goes.”

Days ago, William Lake Mayor Walt Cobb requested grocery stores, the local hospital and other businesses prepare for reentry of residents this week. Yesterday he said food was stocked and hospital staff were at the ready. The last step in the process is of course the final determination that nearby wildfires surrounding the city and rural areas are controlled and that it is safe for residents to return.

Thunderstorms and winds are forecasted for the day and fire crews with air support continue their efforts to suppress the nearby White Lake fire.

Fires did not enter Williams Lake, so no homes were lost in the city. Four homes were lost in the 150 Mile House fire. There are expected to be other losses in the Spokin Lake fire, Wildwood fire, White Lake fire which crossed over the Soda Creek Road and in the Hanceville-Riske Creek fire, though no official numbers have been released yet by the CRD, who have been dealing with a multitude of issues during the wildfire crisis from access for ranchers to rural fire departments and issuing several evacuation orders and alerts stretching from one end of the district to the other.

Cobb and Cariboo Regional District Chair Al Richmond were both in meetings Wednesday morning and unavailable for comment. We hope to bring residents up-to-date with both leaders via Facebook Live as soon as they are available.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Each household will receive cleaning kits from the Red Cross as well as a $300 payment upon their return.

Each household will receive cleaning kits from the Red Cross as well as a $300 payment upon their return.

Staff started stocking the Resiliency Centre for returning evacuees Tuesday.

Staff started stocking the Resiliency Centre for returning evacuees Tuesday.

Preparations are in the works for Williams Lake and area residents to return to the city, including a Resiliency Centre in Boitanio Mall which will offer many services including Red Cross and insurance needs. (Angie Mindus photos)

Preparations are in the works for Williams Lake and area residents to return to the city, including a Resiliency Centre in Boitanio Mall which will offer many services including Red Cross and insurance needs. (Angie Mindus photos)

Just Posted

Pictured above is a BCEHS re-enactment of paramedics attending an overdose. Toxic illicit drugs have claimed the lives of 498 British Columbians in the first three months of 2021, said the BC Coroners Service. (BCEHS photo)
Increase in overdose cases a concern: Fort St. James RCMP

Police issue public health announcement

Jim Woodruff from the Vanderhoof Curling Club has won volunteer of the year by Curl BC. (Photo submitted)
Jim Woodruff awarded Curl BC Volunteer of the Year

“It really is fun making nice ice.”

A groundbreaking ceremony for Cluculz Lake’s new fire hall will take place Tuesday, June 22. The current fire hall is able to only store one apparatus. (Photo submitted)
New fire hall on the way for Cluculz Lake

Approximate $950,000 facility anticipated to be completed by this fall

A cell tower is pictured in rural Ontario on Wednesday, July 15, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick)
Connected future for Saik’uz First Nation

Cellular tower to be constructed by Telus within the community

Nechako River. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)
So far so good, but officials keeping tabs on Nechako River streamflow

Vanderhoof Mayor said typically if there is flooding, it occurs toward the end of May and early June

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Keith MacIntyre - BC Libertarian
Penticton’s Keith MacIntyre new leader of the B.C. Libertarian Party

The Penticton businessman was voted in by members of the party on May 8

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a 'person of interest' in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
Man sought in suspicious Kootenay death found in Lake Country

Philip Toner is a person of interest in the death of Brenda Ware

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP reported to 287 mental health calls between Jan. 1, 2021, and May 1. (Black Press files)
‘It’s not the police’s responsibility to deal with mental health calls’: Vernon RCMP

RCMP remind public to take care of mental health and well-being, while better solutions are sought

Thompson Rivers University campus is in Kamloops, B.C. (KTW file photo)
Thompson Rivers the 1st B.C. university to supply free menstrual products

The university will offer the products this September

Fraser Health is using ‘targeted’ vaccination clinics in high-risk areas of the Lower Mainland. (Fraser Health photo)
B.C.’s COVID-19 decrease continues, 515 new cases Tuesday

426 seriously ill people in hospital, up from 415 Monday

The site of Sunfest, Laketown Ranch, will be open for camping this summer. (Citizen file)
Sunfest country music bash won’t be shining on B.C. in 2021

Annual Vancouver Island Festival cancelled due to COVID-19, along with Laketown Shakedown

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation elected chief councillor Moses Martin, who was also Chantel Moore’s grandfather, speaks to media in Port Alberni on Aug. 16, 2020, during a visit from NDP leader Jagmeet Singh following the police shooting of Chantel Moore. (Elena Rardon photo)
Mother of 2 shot by police in critical condition, says B.C. First Nation chief

Community ‘devastated’ by third member of 1,150-person Vancouver Island nation shot in less than a year

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham promotes the government’s BuyBC food program in 2019. (B.C. government)
Money running out for fresh fruit, vegetables, milk in B.C. schools

‘Looking at ways to support this type of program,’ minister says

Most Read