REGINA – As over 700 firefighters try to battle blazes in Saskatchewan’s north, 5000 people are expected to be evacuated by Wednesday morning.
Most evacuees are from the Lac La Ronge, La Loche, Buffalo Narrows and Montreal Lake regions.
Many of them will be sleeping in Regina for the time being, as refuge centres in Saskatoon, Prince Albert and North Battleford hit capacity Monday evening.
Evraz Place is hosting 1600 evacuees. The University of Regina is hosting 200. Many are arriving in the overnight hours after spending at least eight hours on a bus. They’re being welcomed with cots and meals to get them through the day.
There’s no estimate on when they’ll be able to return home.
That has many in Regina wondering how they can help. Although the Red Cross appreciates the sentiment they have to use pre-screened volunteers.
“It’s a little difficult because the volunteers we use most of them are trained, and have had a criminal record check and that sort of thing,” said Cindy Fuchs, Red Cross Saskatchewan director. “If they’re really interested in volunteering for Red Cross in the future they can contact our office at any time or go on our website.”
Evacuees did have time to pack before they left their communities, but the longer they stay the more supplies they’ll need. Fuchs says they would welcome any food and clothing donations, but please don’t bring them directly to Evraz Place.
“We don’t have the capacity or the room here to actually house them,” she said. “I would prefer we use the resources we have in the city already like the food bank or Salvation Army. They’re already partners so that makes it much easier for us to use them.”
She adds that kids activities would be appreciated as it is quite a task to keep hundreds of children entertained while out of their homes.