Remaining wildfire evacuees anxious to return home

By Jill Sperling
July 24, 2017 - 5:00pm Updated: July 24, 2017 - 6:16pm

KAMLOOPS — 9,300 wildfire evacuees have registered in Kamloops since the province wide state of emergency was declared. 

While many have since been permitted to go home, there are still thousands more waiting for some indication as to when it will be their turn. 

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"We had a fairly large group that was able to go home from 100 Mile and area. They got the news this weekend that they could go home, and so a lot of those people were able to go home on the weekend," said Debbie Sell, information officer with the TNRD Emergency Operations Centre. "We also had some buses that were able to take some of the residents back home."

Many Williams Lake residents remain in Kamloops, waiting for some good news of their own. 

"It's disheartening, but what do you do? Mother Nature does what she wants," said Williams Lake resident, Roger Worsley. "Everybody would like to get back home, and settle down, and get back into the routine."

Williams Lake was evacuated on July 15, and so far there has been no official word on when residents will be able to return. 

"We're not hearing anything yet in terms of a confirmed date," Sell said. "I think people are very anxious, and so hopefully they'll hear something soon."

"They've got a lot of things to do," Worsley said. "They've got to get the hospital going, and power, and everything else, so it's understandable, it takes time."

Kamloops is also hosting residents of Loon Lake, a community severely damaged by fire. 

"Five of our neighbours have lost their homes, but it went across the street from us," said Loon Lake resident Carol Schouten. "We're very fortunate, our house is standing, but it's going to take a long time for a lot of people to pull things back together again."

As long as evacuees are waiting in Kamloops, the Emergency Reception Centre remains a busy place. 

"In addition to just the food and lodging, there are a lot of people that have had to re-register because they've expired on their time period for their initial registration," Sell said, "and so they go through the re-registration process, so the longer people are out on evacuation order, the more they have to come and re-register here."

Although remaining evacuees don't know when they will be able to go home, some choose to celebrate for those who have. 

"Good for them," Schouten said. "It's nice to be home. There's no place like home."

A community meeting for Loon Lake residents was scheduled to take place at the Cache Creek Community Hall at 6 p.m. on Monday, July 24. 


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