Columbia Shuswap Regional District officials provided an update on recovery efforts in the North Shuswap, saying residents impacted by this summer's devastating wildfire are able to access emergency support services for another month.
In a video update, Derek Sutherland, CSRD's acting general manager of community and protection services, said ESS has been extended until Jan. 15 for residents who need it.
Sutherland said the regional district has been working with residents to help them through the wildfire recovery process.
“We've been putting a lot of effort into working with residents on a case by case basis to help support them, depending on their circumstances," Sutherland said.
He encouraged locals who want to start rebuilding to reach out to CSRD development services.
“Please engage the support that is available through the development services department. Make your first call to us," Sutherland said.
"Our trained staff can walk you through the process, and we're here to help. You can contact the building department at 250-832-8194 or email [email protected].”
Sutherland discussed the regional district's rebuilding priorities, noting reconstruction of the Scotch Creek Fire Hall "is front and centre."
"We're anxious to get started on building them a permanent home," he said, adding there's an opportunity to build a more suitable facility.
“We're really looking forward to being able to get this project right from the beginning because of course the old fire hall was added on over the years and ended up with a bit of a wonky configuration. So now we have an opportunity to build something that's right for the community.”
Tracy Hughes, CSRD communications director, said there are still residents in hard-hit areas of the North Shuswap who need help, especially with the holidays approaching.
“The CSRD is continuing to coordinate the donation of items, especially larger items like furniture, tools or appliances," Hughes said.
She said anyone interested in donating items can email [email protected] or call 250-833-3396.
"Provide the information about what you have to offer, we'll take that down and help match it with people who are in need. Of course monetary donations are also welcome," Hughes said.
Kris Jensen, from the North Shuswap Disaster Relief Society, spoke about the generosity they’ve received.
“The donations just literally poured in to the emergency relief fund to the tune of somewhere in the neighbourhood of $800,000," Jensen said.
“As we've gone through the process, looking at applications — and we've looked at a number of applications — we have already funded well in excess of $100,000 out to people to help them out."
He added these are uninsured people, many who are homeless.
"Some of them had homes that were totally destroyed, and they're just trying to figure out a way to get back on their feet and we're figuring out ways to help them out," Jensen said.
He said his organization is working to make sure people have places to stay.
“We're really trying to make sure people can get through the winter, and there are some that won't be able to and you've referred to that, and they'll have to be housed in a different way. We are more than willing, if they can find a housing accommodation that works for them, but can't afford it or can't afford all of it, to help them out with that.”
Sutherland said people interested in supporting wildfire relief efforts through the Shuswap Community can make donations through any Salmon Arm Savings and Credit Union location.