ESS volunteers on call 24/7 at Evacuee Reception Centre in Barriere

Evacuees from Allie Lake fire advised to register at reception centre in Barriere

On Friday, May 25, an evacuation order was issued in the afternoon by the Thompson Nicola Regional District as a result of the Allie Lake wildfire for 14 properties that were told to report to reception centres in Barriere and Kamloops.

TNRD spokesperson Michelle Nordstrom stated two groups of homes had been told to get out.

“Those properties are kind of in two different electoral areas. We have got seven of them located in the Bonaparte Lake area and the other seven are located in the Deadman-Vidette area,” said Nordstrom, “The properties located on Bonaparte Lake are going to have travel north up towards highway 24 and then go east towards Little Fort and then out to highway 5 to Barriere. Once they are in Barriere they can register at the ESS reception centre at the Barriere Lions Hall once they get there.”

Homes on Deadman-Vidette road evacuees were advised to report to the Emergency Reception Centre at the McArthur Island Sports Centre.

When an evacuation order is issued Emergency Social Services (ESS) volunteers are alerted and reception centres are opened in the designated areas as quickly as possible. The reception centre then remains available until advised to stand down by the Regional District.

Emergency Social Services (ESS) provides short-term assistance to British Columbians who are forced to leave their homes because of fire, floods, earthquakes or other emergencies. This assistance includes food, lodging, clothing, emotional support and family reunification.

The evacuee reception centre in Barriere was opened by ESS volunteers at 3 p.m. on Friday, who then remained at the hall until 9 p.m. that evening with no one showing up to register.

Barriere ESS then contacted the TNRD and were given the okay to close the hall, leaving a contact telephone number on the door for any evacuees that might yet arrive. The contact number was for an ESS volunteer who could be back at the hall in less than 10 minutes.

On Saturday, this newspaper was contacted by some concerned citizens who were under the impression that the telephone number posted on the door was incorrect. After investigation this reporter has confirmed that the telephone number left on the door was correct, and that no calls were received from any evacuees arriving at the hall. However, it is always possible that a caller may not have left a message on voice mail if the ESS volunteer was not able to immediately answer a call.

The telephone number on the door was changed Saturday afternoon. The new number directly contacts the Emergency Operations Centre, who will then advise Barriere ESS volunteers to attend the hall if an evacuee has arrived, and in this way all calls are recorded.

We contacted District of Barriere Mayor Virginia Smith in regards to concerns from some citizens about the hall being closed, with just a contact number on the door.

“Barriere ESS is still set up and available 24/7,” said Mayor Smith, “If someone is evacuated and wanting service, we are available.”

She noted this is not an unusual practice when dealing with a very small number of possible evacuees, and that the TNRD and EOS have the contact information for Barriere ESS volunteers to immediately notify them if needed.

“We have very dedicated and caring volunteers here in Barriere who have put in many long shifts when called upon,” said Mayor Smith, “Our volunteers are always ready to help when needed.”

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