Province's wildfire relief funding begins amid evacuee frustration

By Vanessa Ybarra
July 12, 2017 - 5:00pm Updated: July 12, 2017 - 7:07pm

KAMLOOPS —  Many wildfire evacuees have been away from their homes for close to a week now, and for some, money is growing thin.

While the TNRD, Kamloops Food Bank, and other agencies have donated goods and supplies, some families have been stretched to the limit when it comes to spending money.

Although the province has promised to hand over $600-hundred to every displaced household, the question of when that money will be rolled out remains.

Allie Okino, her husband, and two dogs have been away from their Cache Creek home for around two days.

Okino remains fairly confident their home was spared from the wildfires.

What's top-of-mind for her and the rest of the approximately 22-hundred evacuees in Kamloops is when they'll receive the $600-dollars emergency fund promised by the provincial government.

"My husband and I both can't work due to the fact he works in Ashcroft and I work at the hospital so I'm kinda trapped to get back-and-forth," said Okino. "So it would be nice to have."

According to the Canadian Red Cross, the emergency payment began rolling out Tuesday, with $600-dollars being dolled out per household.

Officials say each registered evacuee's location has to be verified before the payment is processed which is what has caused the money delay.

Then there's the registration process.

"There's two separate registrations," said Debbie Sell, Information officer with the TNRD Emergency Operation Centre. "There's one with the TNRD which is for those who require food and lodging and one with the Canadian Red Cross where people need to register in order to access money promised by the provincial government. It's really important all people register with the Red Cross in order to receive those funds."

Sell says not every evacuee has registered with the Canadian Red Cross.

The centre hopes the registration process will improve in the coming days.

For retiree Gilles Jalbert, who fled 105 Mile House Lake on Friday, they've so far spent around $300-dollars on RV stays and gas.

Unlike other evacuees, the provincial payment isn't crucial.

"We're retired so it's not a big thing," said Jalbert.

While stresses and emotions still remain high for all evacuees, Jalbert says he remains appreciative of TNRD and Red Cross efforts.

"Everything has been great," said Jalbert. "People are going out of their way to help."

Regional District opens Resiliency Centre in Kamloops