Kicker – January ’24
Disaster Relief Society Update
By Bill Holtby; Board Member North Shuswap Disaster Relief Society. (NSDRS)
We are sure that our community is curious about how the wild fire relief donations channeled through the NSDRS from the Shuswap Community Foundation and the North Shuswap Community Hall Society Fire Relief Fund are being spent.
With that in mind, our mission on the web site is distilled as : provide support to those residents most in need To ensure suitable accommodation and access to basic living needs …… in whatever way necessary.
We can’t help everybody, but we are working with those most in need to make sure they are warm, safe, and fed through the winter and beyond. The focus is on small capital projects. We do not replace wages lost or affected by the fire. Small businesses looking for assistance to replace infrastructure or tools lost in the wildfire can contact the Shuswap Economic Recovery Taskforce at: https://shuswapecdev.ca/our-region/wildfire-relief-and-resources (They have $50,000 dedicated specifically to businesses)
To date, NSDRS funding for people with needs has been between $4,000 and $22,000, largely dependent on what is needed to survive. Names have been changed to protect privacy
Millie lost her uninsured home on rental land. She resided in a hotel with her dogs for a long 3 ½ months; with nothing more than a bed, bath and TV. Emotional ups and downs were traumatic with ESS deadlines of support looming weekly. We helped her get a second hand fifth wheel, had a contractor winterize it and find a rental pad costing about the she had before. For $15,000, she now owns an older fifth wheel and is thrilled – she says she is essentially back to normal an loving it..
Jen is a single mom with 2 great teenage kids. She has been working to gradually build her home on a pay as you go basis. Luckily her home was only slightly damaged by the fire. Making her whole consisted of helping replace 3 windows and the Tyvek on her home – about $4000. She lost all her tools, but at least the family is safe and warm for the winter.
Fred lost his home (a holiday trailer) to the fire along with his outbuildings and servicing. Through the generosity of a regional business, he was given a used trailer to replace the one he lost. The NSDRS helped him pay for skirting the trailer and hookup of water, sewer and power – about $10,000.
Bill lost his power pole, appliances and outbuildings full of lumber. He is well into retirement and has nothing other than OAS. The NSDRS determined that life sustainability going forward required replacing the power pole, some interior wiring, a freezer and lumber so that he could reconstruct his outside solar bath house – about $22,000
Another family of 4 had taken their life savings and needed another $15,000 to finish the payment to receive the kit house and concrete for foundation. They are working on rebuilding using their own labour to make a fire proof house.
All told, NSDRS have committed about $200,000 to 15 local residents most in need and are working through more applications that we have received in the past 6 weeks. We meet with each person to try to truly understand what will help them and then get it done.
There are plans this summer to work with the Mennonite Disaster Services (MDS). They have approached 11 homeowners with no insurance and wish to rebuild from standard MDS home plans; pending land use, permit approval and financial support for materials. About 10 mobile homes were destroyed in the fire and we are trying to find a way to address that community as well.
The NSDRS believes that as people make it through their short term accommodation needs of the winter there will be a huge need for support in the spring. The Shuswap Community Foundation is still actively soliciting donations. To donate indicate 2023 Wildfire Relief at http://shuswapfoundation.ca/
We would like to thank the Provincial Emergency Support Services (ESS) program for extending its service to January 15, 2024 for support of the last 20 or so individuals/family units that are still in temporary accommodation.