November 29, 2018 9:33 pm

Frequent emergencies mean the Red Cross needs more Okanagan volunteers

A plane fights a wildfire near Okanagan Falls.

Dan MacPherson File

Okanagan residents are all too familiar with the destructive potential of floods and wildfires.

The frequent emergencies in the region and around B.C. are also taxing the ability of Canadian Red Cross to respond and it’s creating a need for more volunteers.

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“With the ever-increasing level and frequency of disasters in the province each year, we are seeing a greater stress on our volunteers across the province with both flood and fire seasons occurring regularly,” said Liam Devine, an emergency management co-ordinator for the Canadian Red Cross.

“We are recruiting more volunteers in the Okanagan right now because we are experiencing a greater demand of local and provincial emergencies all year round.”

READ MORE: Osoyoos Lake surpasses peak expectations and floods area homes and businesses

In the Okanagan, the Red Cross said the area most in need of new help is the north Okanagan, where longtime leaders are taking a step back from the work.

However, the Red Cross would like to see new volunteers for disaster response teams around the valley.

“If you have a passion for helping people… at a time of distress who have lost potentially everything in a housefire or a house flood, then this is the type of role for you,” Devine said.

“You would be a part of a local team and certainly in the higher-level flooding seasons and the fire seasons, you would be responding as well to greater scale disasters.”

Those interested in volunteering can apply on the Canadian Red Cross website.

In 2018, wildfires burnt a larger area than in any other B.C. fire season on record.

READ MORE: 2018 wildfire season now the worst on record for hectares burned

It came on the heels of another historic wildfire season in 2017 when fires that burnt more than 1.2-million hectares forced 65,000 people to evacuate their properties.

In 2017, the Okanagan also experienced widespread flooding. In Kelowna alone, 3,200 people were forced from their homes due to flooding evacuations.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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