Evac­uees say they lack enough food, blan­kets

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - CANADA - BY KUR­TIS DO­ER­ING, CKOM

Some peo­ple who had to flee their homes due to a fast-ap­proach­ing for­est fire in north­ern Saskatchewan say the evac­u­a­tion cen­tre they are stay­ing at in Al­berta is lack­ing ba­sic ameni­ties.

Jen­nifer and Mable Is­bis­ter, who live in La Ronge, say the past two days haven't been easy for them or their fam­i­lies.

With no time to pack their things, they and hun­dreds of oth­ers boarded a bus to Prince Al­bert, Sask., then on to Cold Lake, Alta.

When they reached the recre­ation cen­tre in Cold Lake, Jen­nifer was given a fold-up cot with a small wool blan­ket to sleep on. Oth­ers didn't get blan­kets, the sis­ters said, adding there is not enough food to go around ei­ther.

“This morn­ing they ran out of stuff again,” Mable said Tues­day.

“It's go­ing to be a con­tin­u­ing process,” Jen­nifer added, “Some of us didn't even have supper last night or break­fast this morn­ing.”

Some el­ders had to leave home with­out their medicine, wheel­chairs and walk­ers, and get­ting to meals has been a chal­lenge, she said.

“I went and bor­rowed an of­fice chair and helped my grandpa,” Jen­nifer said, “I put him in there and took him to the kitchen and took him out­side for a smoke. So he's keep­ing that chair with him. He's us­ing that.”

As of Tues­day, there were around 680 evac­uees were be­ing housed in Cold Lake.

J.P. Taschereau, se­nior man­ager of emer­gency re­sponse with the Red Cross, said he is not aware of a food short­age at the evac­u­a­tion cen­tre in Cold Lake.

He said vol­un­teers are work­ing to help re­place vi­tal items that evac­uees may have left be­hind.

“If our vol­un­teers in the shel­ter be­come aware of such a sit­u­a­tion, they will then re­fer to public health and then we'll have a vol­un­teer go and pick up ei­ther med­i­ca­tion or a wheel­chair or for ex­am­ple, baby for­mula or di­a­pers,” Taschereau said.

The Red Cross is not ac­cept­ing do­na­tions of food, blan­kets, cloth­ing and other items, say­ing the space and man­power re­quired to take them would pull re­sources away from more ur­gent needs.

It will take do­na­tions of money, but it is not ac­tively cam­paign­ing for cash aid.

It sug­gests peo­ple who want to do­nate food and other such items to con­tact groups such as the Sal­va­tion Army.

“Lots of these evac­uees don't nec­es­sar­ily want to be in the park­ing lot hav­ing a quiet mo­ment, and be chal­lenged by some­body with a garbage bag full of clothes,” said Karri Kempf with the Saskatchewan Min­istry of So­cial Ser­vices.

“It's re­ally in­tim­i­dat­ing for peo­ple. They're not used to the crowds, they're not used to the huge cen­tres.”

But Jen­nifer and Mable Is­bis­ter said while many are lack­ing tow­els or cloth­ing, such help would be welcome.


In this July 4 photo, a fire­fight­ing crew walks near La Ronge, Saskatchewan. Cana­dian sol­diers ar­rived Tues­day to help bat­tle rag­ing wild­fires where about 13,000 peo­ple have been evac­u­ated in re­cent days.

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