More than 27,000 British Columbians have been displaced from their homes by wildfires, with another 35,000 on standby to leave at a moment’s notice.
It’s the worst wildfire season in the province’s history, with more than 1.7 million hectares burned, an area three times greater than the size of Prince Edward Island.
Donations can be made online or by calling 1-800-418-1111.
Elysia Dempsey, senior director for the charity’s emergency management program in B.C., said the Red Cross already has shelters set up in Prince George and Kelowna. Some 35 volunteers are working elsewhere in the B.C., assessing the needs on the ground.
“We’ve got a lot of behind-the-scenes work happening with both volunteers and staff,” Dempsey said.
“We’re looking at advance planning, so what next might occur? How might we mobilize? Looking at potential setup of further shelters and supports.”
Donated funds will go toward relief for evacuated families as the Red Cross develops its long-term mitigation program, she explained. While Dempsey couldn’t share a dollar figure for the amount of funds collected to date, she foresaw a “large financial need” down the road.
“We’re still supporting individual households from the 2021 fires and floods events, helping with rebuild activities,” she told Global News.
“I’ve been around doing this for a while — each disaster is totally different in what the needs are, I’d say this one is high up there in the scale of impact.”
United Way British Columbia has also launched a campaign, with funds going towards food assistance, trauma and mental health support, popup camps for kids, legal services, and more. According to the charity’s website, Interior Savings and Gulf & Fraser will match every dollar donated up to a maximum of $20,000.
“Our assistance doesn’t stop when the immediate crisis ends,” reads United Way B.C.’s campaign.
“We are committed to the well-being of our communities and work alongside those affected through recovery to help create long-term sustainability.”
Donations can be made online.
At a wildfire briefing on Monday, Emergency Management and Climate Readiness Minister Bowinn Ma also encouraged those who can to donate. She pointed to the United Way and Red Cross initiatives.
“Additionally, the BC SPCA is providing emergency boarding for pets of evacuees and has pet food and supplies available for those in need,” she said.
“To view a list of other registered charities that are helping to collect donations, please visit canadahelps.org.”
Charities fundraising for wildfire relief that are verified through that website include the Central Okanagan Food Bank, the Salvation Army B.C. division, Samaritan’s Purse Canada, and Disaster Aid Canada.
GoFundMe, an online crowdfunding website, has also launched a verified centralized hub for wildfire relief. That hub contains individual fundraisers for people who have lost homes and belongings, as well as livestock and animals impacted by the disaster.