BC Wildfires Response Wednesday, July 19, 2017

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BC Wildfires Response Wednesday, July 19, 2017
BC Wildfires Response
Wednesday, July 19, 2017
A second teleconference was held today, July 19, 2017, to discuss our response to the BC wildfires - What is being done among Adventists? Who is involved? What are the needs? While things are still influx the following information may be useful. Please feel free to share.
Ern Brake
Executive Secretary, BC Conference

Alrick Watson 
Anita Odondi
Cameron Koronko
David Rodriguez
Ern Brake 
Jerry Logan
Joel Duntin 
John Masigan
Ken Fox  
Laura Oke
​James Astleford 
Sharmilla Reid 
Thandazani Mhlanga
Wesley Torres
Pastor, Williams Lake, Quesnel
ADRA Emergency Management Director
Pastor, Rutland
Pastor, Salmon Arm, Revelstoke, Silver Creek
Chair, BC Conference Executive Secretary
Pastor, Prince George, McBride, Vanderhoof
Pastor, Cariboo, 100 Mile House
Pastor, Kamloops
Elder, Rutland
ADRA Assistant to Administration
ADRA Director
​ ADRA Supporter Relations Director
​Pastor, Ashcroft, Lillooet, Merritt
President, BC Conference

Two stages of relief:
1. The immediate needs of evacuees - food, clothing, accommodation, psycho-social support.
2. The long-term needs - what evacuees will find when they go back home.
The government and NGOs have provided for most of the immediate needs. Most of the church’s response is yet to come. See the message from Anita Odondi
Pastors Affected:
1. Pastor Alrick Watson is still on evacuation orders along with his church and city. The fires are approximately 7 km away from Williams Lake. The air over Williams Lake is filled with smoke. Pastor Alrick has been in touch with his flock from a distance. The Watson family registered as evacuees at and were, therefore, able to receive $600 from the BC government. Over 22,000 evacuees have registered
Pastor Alrick said, “Most of the Williams Lake Church members are currently staying in the Kamloops and Prince George areas. Others are staying with family members elsewhere. Also, most of the families in our church are accounting for but we still need to hear from others, especially those who do not have cell phones or access to internet. We are encouraging all our members or attendees to call, email or text Pastor Alrick Watson of their whereabouts.” Pastor Watson can be reached at 778-961-0166 or
2. Pastor Joel Duntin was finally able to get away from being stranded in Lone Butte near 100 Mile House and reunite with his wife, Sallee, at Camp Hope. His church members are safe and sound with friends or relatives, or camping. The town of 100 Mile House is prioritizing getting their essential services (such as the hospital) up and running before inviting people back into the town. One challenge he noted was that people without communication technology feel more isolated.
Joel will give us more information on how evacuees can access another $400 from Emergency Social Services (ESS). See message below entitled “Hi Family.”
3. Pastor Thandazani Mhlanga is on his way to visit church members evacuated to Kamloops. His area was the first to endure fire destruction. Now people are coming back to their homes or what is left on their homes.
Pastors Helping or on Standby to Help:
1. Pastor Jerry Logan said, “McBride church is prepared to receive anyone in need as they travel through McBride area. Some families have taken in people to their own homes. The Prince George church has opened its school property to people with RVs to be able to park there. Vanderhoof is making plans to help as well, I am meeting with them tonight to discuss what their action will be.”
2. Pastor David Rodrigez: The Salmon Arm church was helping the relief effort in Kamloops with supplies. But now they are redirecting supplies to relief need in Salmon Arm.
3. Pastor John Masigan: The Kamloops church has formed an Action Group and have though through the immediate needs verses the long-term needs. They recognize that this is a marathon, not a sprint. They opened their church to be an evacuation Comfort Centre for several days, advertising everywhere including on Facebook. But with little response they recognised that they were duplicating services offered elsewhere. So they are now considering setting up an ADRA Camp for 100 evacuees who may need to be transferred August 6.
4. Pastor Cameron Koronko said the Rutland SDA Church is expressing interest in being a support to our pastors and churches in the areas affected by the fires.  We will continue to participate in the teleconference calls with ADRA representatives, BC Conference Administrators and the pastors of the affected areas to determine needs not being met by Government and local agencies.
Other pastors said they could not call in, but want us to know that they stand ready to help. Another church is considering taking up a special offering.
Useful Websites:
Where to direct evacuees:
Where to direct persons who want to donate:
Wildfire Status:
Hi Family

Many of you have been asking questions on how to receive financial assistance while you're evacuated. Here is the advice I received from someone who has gone through the whole process already. There are two ways to receive financial assistance if you have been affected by the BC wildfires. 
  1. Register with the Red Cross. You do NOT need to be on evacuation ORDER to qualify for this. Each household affected is potentially eligible for $600 assistance that is sent by e-transfer if you do online banking or transferred directly into your account after you provide account details. You can register in the following ways:
2.  Register with Emergency Social Services wherever you have ended up. There are ESS centres in many of the cities/towns that evacuees have settled- just do a quick google search to see where your nearest one is set rup. You will need to go in and can register on behalf of all family members that have been evacuated with you. Depending on how busy it is, you might be in for a couple hours or more wait. They will assist you with grocery vouchers and other such goodies… it's REALLY worth it, so check out what ESS in your area is offering! For example, in Chilliwack they gave me and my husband $415 for amenities and a week of groceries. You may only be able to receive this if your home was in an area with an evacuation order.

- Pastor J

Message From Anita Odondi
ADRA Emergency Management Director
As the Seventh-day Adventist Church/ADRA Canada, we are mandated to help our brothers and sisters in need, regardless of their religious affiliation or status. I have put together some pointers based on the discussion we’ve had.
  1. What to do in the emergency phase
  • At this stage, most need will be for basic life needs (e.g. water, shelter, food, medical)
  • Where there is a steady flow of evacuees in need, do continue to open the churches, receiving and giving donated items. If you have received more donations than there is need, especially for perishable items, if you do not have sufficient or proper storage, please take them to your local Food bank.
  • I encourage pastors who have attended any regional/local coordination meetings, or got information from a reliable source, to share the information received widely, through the channels of communication we have agreed to. This is mostly information on where evacuees can get help.
  • Purchase any items (e.g. water, a pillow, air mattress) that might be needed very urgently yet not donated or easily/readily accessible by a family hosted at your church. Keep the receipts of any items or services purchased for the BC fire response. Give them to the conference for a refund from the ADRA fund.
  • Up to $1,000 is available to be used by the 5 churches responding (specified in the call) as needed. Other churches can be added as need arises. Please contact Pastor Brake.
  1. What to do in the early recovery, rehabilitation period
  • Insurance companies will take the lead at this stage to repair/replace what families and individuals have lost.
  • The provincial/national government has made available funds that will help the families and individuals who do not have insurance.
  • The churches are encouraged to refer evacuees and/or returnees to the above.
  • If there is a rare case that does not qualify for either of the above, then the local church administration can support the family or individual further. I encourage due diligence (the family would provide proof that they do not qualify for the above help) to avoid resource duplication.
  1. Psycho Social support
After (and sometimes during) accessing the basic life needs, individuals and families will need psycho social support (PSS). I am encouraging Pastors to open their churches so that they and other trained counselors are available to help reduce the emotional distress. Sometimes people are not yet ready to talk and the best way to reach them might be for example providing some hours for day care in order to allow parents to attend to other pressing issues. (We will agree that this might not be the time to try to convert to Adventism).
  1. Care for responders
This is especially for the churches who have been responding from day 1 and have a heavy flow of evacuees needing help. Please encourage shift work to reduce burn out and fatigue of volunteers. Pastors need it as well.
  1. What to very visibly advertise at the churches
  • Times open for help
  • Type of help available at the church (including PSS is available) and that it’s free of charge
  • Number to call if in distress
  • Help provided by the local emergency coordinating body
Please do not hesitate to contact me at any time of the day or night as needed.
Anita M. Odondi | Emergency Program Director
ADRA Canada | 20 Robert Street W, Newcastle, ON, L1B 1C6, Canada
Tel & Cell: +1(289) 780.4518 |Fax: +1(905)723.1930 |Skype: anitamodondi