WATCH: West Kelowna evacuees coping in wake of fire
With more than two thousand people forced out of their homes and hundreds more on evacuation alert, the evacuation centre in West Kelowna has been bustling all day.
“We got food and diapers. It is amazing, the help is really good and community is so good,” says Rochelle Vella.
She along with her husband and their two young children including a newborn are among the 25 hundred people who had to flee their homes Thursday afternoon when the Smith Creek wildfire began threatening lives and properties.
“There are so many people working on it. You can hear the planes right now, they are good at what they are doing. I will leave in their hands, they’ll figure it out,” says Vella about efforts to ensure houses don’t get consumed by flames.
The evacuation centre has been set up at Mt. Boucherie Secondary where all evacuees are encouraged to register.
“We would like people to register. It gives us an idea where they are first of all, if people are looking for them the only way we can connect family members is if they have registered and they call us then we can put them in touch so that is important,” says Catherine Williams with the Central Okanagan Emergency Support Services.
Evacuees are also entitled to food and clothing vouchers as well as hotel accommodation for three days.
However, with the peak tourist season and the weekend, finding available rooms is proving challenging.
“The number of hotels I have called the majority of them are saying zero. We have some hotels that will be able to provide some rooms tonight possibly. If we can get people in tonight, we are happy we can get them in tonight we have to worry about tomorrow tomorrow,” says Ken Thompson with Central Okanagan Support Services.
With the shortage of hotel rooms, evacuees are being encouraged to reach out to family and friends to house them.