Okanagan volunteers needed ahead of flood and fire seasons
The Salvation Army in the Central Okanagan is appealing for more volunteers as it prepares for the upcoming flood and forest fire seasons.
“We are, right now, looking for individuals who might be interested in coming and joining our emergency disaster services,” said Darryl Burry, executive director for the Central Okanagan Salvation Army.
“Spring and summer are coming and, unfortunately as we know, every year we encounter many disasters here in the province of B.C., and we want to have as many people trained as possible, be able to give support to evacuees in those times.”
The Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services (EDS) volunteers work in conjunction with the province’s Emergency Social Services (ESS) to assist people forced out of their homes due to natural disasters such as fires and floods.
Burry told Global News there’s a multitude of roles volunteers play during emergencies.
“It’s meeting those who have been evacuated, helping provide some of that basic support of a cup of coffee or a bottle of water or some snacks, just coming alongside and support them as they are first coming into these processes, because it can be a very traumatic time,” he said.
“We also have people who we train in what we call emotional and spiritual support, and so they can walk along people, have those conversations with those who may be having an especially difficult time in times of crisis and disaster.”
Volunteers are also needed to drive the Sally Ann’s EDS truck, which is deployed to disaster scenes, as well as cooking and serving meals to evacuees and first responders.
“We want to get as many people through our doors and trained as possible,” Burry said. “There’s extensive training that goes along with all of our emergency disaster services, so that everyone can be equipped to do what they need to do in their various roles.”
Margie Cox is a long-time volunteer and said there’s a real sense of satisfaction being able to help people during a difficult time.
“They’re really so disorganized and so upset,” she said. “I think they need a little bit of stability and if you can give them something hot to drink and something to eat, it just calms them down a little bit. They know other people are thinking about them.”
During the 2017 flood and fire seasons, Salvation Army volunteers in the Central Okanagan helped more than 4,000 evacuees that came from all over the province.
The Salvation Army is holding an information session on Tuesday at 6 p.m., at the Kelowna Community Church (1480 Sutherland Ave.) for anyone who is interested in becoming a volunteer.
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