Flood relief efforts continue 

Disaster Recovery Centre meeting needs in Pemberton

Although the water levels have long subsided, the need for aid services is still high in the Pemberton and Mount Currie area following the flooding that began on Oct. 17.

"There are an amazing number of people who still require assistance," said Clare Fletcher, the disaster recovery co-ordinator for the Provincial Emergency Program (PEP). "There are over 20 families that are still without their homes, and many more families that were able to go back to their homes only to find a lot of damage, replacing insulation and drywall, and they can’t afford it.

"People lost work because the bridge was out, and some lost their belongings, their clothes, furniture, and things," she added.

Under PEP, Fletcher has helped to set up a Disaster Recovery Centre for Pemberton and Mount Currie.

The centre will be operated by emergency social service groups under the OVER B.C. umbrella. Groups include the Red Cross, the Salvation Army and the Adventist Development and Relief Agency. The B.C. Disaster Financial Assistance Program is still run out of the SLRD office.

According to Karen Miller, the Red Cross Disaster Services Co-ordinator for the Lower Mainland, the situation is still serious for a large number of people.

"We’re still in the Recovery phase, and we have an appeal out for a million dollars to help us fill in the gaps for people who have fallen through the cracks, who aren’t covered by the government, or insurance, or other agencies," said Miller.

The Red Cross is also providing similar services to the Squamish area through another Disaster Recovery Centre.

The goal is to help people to meet their immediate needs, and cover some special emergency costs so they are able to get back on their feet faster. The Red Cross doesn’t provide money to victims, but can supply people with food vouchers, pay bills, and provide clothes and other necessities to free up their money for other things.

"Some people just had an enormous loss. Others lost a week of work because the bridge was out," said Miller. The people of Mount Currie were particularly hard-hit, she said.

The total cost of providing emergency aid to residents is still to be determined, but many of the victims don’t qualify for provincial disaster relief assistance for a variety of reasons.

People who lived in mobile homes were especially affected because they are considered to be recreational vehicles by the province while the B.C. Disaster Financial Assistance Program only applies to homeowners, residential tenants, small businesses and farm owners, charitable organizations and local governments.

"We can’t rebuild houses, but we can help people with their more immediate needs," said Miller.

One of the problems in finding support for flood victims is the fact that the flooding is no longer front page news.

"During the fires of this summer, the fires were in our face for weeks and weeks, and so the fundraising kept going and going. Then the flooding happened, and it was big news, but it’s not in the news any more. People don’t even know that they’re neighbours are suffering. This isn’t over for them, not by a long shot," said Miller.

The Red Cross and OVER B.C. plan to stay in Pemberton and Squamish for several months, as long as their services are needed.

The Disaster Recovery Centre is located at 1366 Aster Road by Paperworks and the Sears outlet. Services run from food and lodging to clothing to counseling.

The centre’s operating hours are from noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. After hours you can call 604-905-9466.

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