B.C. wildfire evacuees question delays in relief money

Confusion adding to stress for wildfire evacuees
Tue, Jul 11: Some evacuees are saying that the lack of information and coordination is adding to their stress and frustration. Nadia Stewart has that part of the story.

More than 14,000 people have been forced from their homes by the B.C. wildfires, and some of them say financial assistance isn’t coming in quickly enough.

On Sunday, outgoing Premier Christy Clark promised “immediate” relief in the form of $600 for evacuees who had lost property.

That cash was to come in the form of an electronic funds transfer through the Red Cross.

LISTEN: Wildfire evacuees wondering when promised relief money will come
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But Cache Creek resident Lance Williams says he hasn’t seen the money, and worse, is getting no information about when and how it will come.

Speaking to CKNW’s Steele & Drex Show, Williams said during the registration process the Red Cross was unclear about the relief money process.

READ MORE: Christy Clark announces $100M to help communities affected by B.C. wildfires

Williams is now staying in Sun Peaks, where he said many other evacuees are also getting anxious about how they’ll make ends meet.

“Let’s face it, a lot of Canadians live paycheque to paycheque,” he said.

“[It] could be three to four days. I said that’s not what immediate means. Immediate means now.”

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But the Red Cross says the money is coming.

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Emergency Operations Manager Lise Anne Pierce said money started flowing to evacuees on Tuesday afternoon.

Pierce said the Red Cross is working as fast as it can, but needs to verify people’s information, which takes time.

“It has less to do with whether or not they registered today and much more to do with the areas that they are from, as far as when those areas were evacuated,” Pierce said.

“Our system of prioritization is based on evacuation orders and how long people have been out for.”

WATCH: Full coverage of B.C. wildfires

Pierce said depending on the individual, evacuees can expect to receive funds by electronic transfer or cash cards.

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The Red Cross’s online registration is also experiencing technical glitches.

READ MORE: B.C. wildfires 2017: How you can help

The organization expects it to be up and running by Wednesday morning, Pierce said.

In the meantime, evacuees are asked to register by phone at 1-800-863-4582.

-With files from Emily Lazatin