Can you imagine, one day your receive a knock on your door by police and you’re told your under an evacuation order, you must pack up and leave immediately? The other day a little girl befriended my daughter at the playground. The Grandmas were having an afternoon at the spray park with little Anna. This 6 year old girl was a real little chatter box and thus began chatting with Anna’s Grandmothers. Out of nowhere, she asked point blank “Are you evacuees too?”
Once I heard this story, my heart melted a little for this poor young girl. She was from Williams Lake and one of the 36,000+ British Columbians evacuated from their homes. July 6, 2017 is when it all started, some caused by thunderstorms. Others were human caused. Residents of British Columbia watched as the back country of went up in flames. Currently B.C. remains under a state of emergency as 150 wildfires continue to burn in the province. Thousands of residents from B.C and Alberta have opened their doors and hearts to help with the devastation. Where we live, we have over 1500 volunteers registered. Let’s not forget the 500 additional Police Officers, 225 Canadian Armed Forces, thousands of fire fighters from across the country, and even firefighters from Australia have arrived to help! It’s amazing and heartwarming to see so many generous humans left in this world.
Here’s a little bit of our story and vacationing around the fires this summer. On July 6th, we started our travels down south, driving through the night, passing by one of the first large fires by 100 Mile House (Gustafson fire). Once we arrived on Vancouver Island we were made aware that 100 Mile, a town of about 2000 (not including surrounding area), was evacuated and the main highway was closed. As we still had a week of our vacation to go, we were hoping that the highway home would be opened up by then. We also hoped that my husband wouldn’t be recalled to work. It’s a worry every Police spouse has. A state of emergency happens and most vacations are cancelled. We are one of the lucky ones and have yet to experience a cancellation or missed holidays due to his job.
Unfortunately the highway was still closed and we made the extra 200km (felt like forever) journey through the mountain highway, around the fires. The first travel day home we stayed in the town I went to high school in. The town has about 2400 people. As we were pulling through the valley we noticed many fires on the hills and wondered if it was safe to stay there. Luckily, we didn’t get a knock on the door and James almost had a vacation without having to work! Almost!
Oh the life as a RCMP spouse… that evening as we were setting up the trailer James disappeared behind the trailer. I went to see what the hold up was. He was talking very seriously to this couple in the site next to us. I’m standing there with Annalise thinking oh great, he’s working. We wander around a little bit trying to stay out of the way. Annalise then runs off toward their campsite where the lady was cleaning up some of her stuff. I ran after her thinking oh sh*t, I hope she’s not dangerous, hah! Once I wrangled up Annalise, James comes around the trailer with this guy and tells me to go change Annalise. As I was already going in that direction, we head into the trailer and open all the windows. It was probably 35 degrees in there, just stifling, hot, and smoky. Shortly after a local RCMP shows up. This guy is sitting outside my trailer speaking with the cop. I can hear his whole story. I’m sitting here thinking hurry up I’m dying of heat stroke in here! The two finally leave and I ask my husband what the heck happened!? Turns out as James was setting up he noticed this couple on the ground strangling each other. They were a couple from across the country having a casual domestic in the campground! This is just one of the many times my husband has had to work while off duty. As a spouse, it is very frustrating when average Joe thinks just because they aren’t in uniform, they aren’t working. A small FYI to all, police take an oath to serve and protect under all circumstances. Their integrity is never “turned off”.
Anyway, hopefully there is some rain in the coming days and everyone can return to their homes. I cannot imagine what it would feel like to return from an evacuation and your home is gone. Fortunetly, many homes have been saved but not all. Even for the homes that didn’t burn, the residents will still be returning to a huge mess. All the rotten food in the fridges and freezers from no power. Old garbage that didn’t get taken out. Fire retardant used to save their homes, stuck on everything. Hopefully no water leaks, and I’m sure there would be smoke damage. Then to add to it, the days and weeks with no pay check to cover the bills. Luckily, there are agencies that have stepped in to aid with a disaster like this. With generous donations from many, they’ve made it possible to support our evacuees and their animals.
I encourage anyone, if you are able to help in anyway, please do! Even if you can’t spare your time or your home, a few dollars to the Red Cross will help a family in need.
If you wish to donate click here to be taken to the Red Cross site.