B.C. seeks input on helping disaster evacuees ahead of wildfire season

B.C. seeks input on helping disaster evacuees ahead of wildfire season

British Columbia is seeking public input on how it helps disaster evacuees, in the wake of the province’s worst wildfire season on record.

The Ministry of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness says it wants to revamp how it provides assistance under the Emergency Support Services program.

The program provides short-term assistance for evacuees and communities including shelter, food, transportation and clothing.

The ministry says it wants the feedback to inform changes to the program in preparation for the 2024 fire season, as well as long term.

Public feedback is being sought until Feb. 9 via a form on the government’s public engagement website.

The ministry says about 24,300 households were put under evacuation orders in the summer of 2023 and more than 7,000 got support from Emergency Support Services.

Cathy Semchuk, emergency program co-ordinator for the Columbia Shuswap Regional District, said in a news release that the program helped thousands of Shuswap residents last summer.

She said the program “helped families meet their basic needs” during the fires that destroyed hundreds of homes in the Interior region.

The consultation process will also help inform a task force appointed to provide recommendations ahead of the 2024 wildfire season, the ministry said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 4, 2024.

The Canadian PressThe Canadian Press

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