The Salvation Army was on site and preprared to respond to two wildfires in West Kelowna but weeks ago. This coincidently was the one year anniversary for the Kelowna’s Emergency Disaster Services team who had responded to two apartment fires just a year previous. Pastor Darryl shared, “to the members of my team here in Kelowna, I am humbled by your dedication and hard-work in these past days and thank you for pouring out your heart to care for others!”
Kelowna’s EDS team were first called out earlier in the week to respond to a wildfire on Mount Boucherie to feed the first responders dinner and hydrate. A couple of days later, another fire broke out in the Smith Creek area of West Kelowna putting them into action again. This time they assisted in two capacities, by feeding the first responders more than 600 meals over a 3 day period, and then supporting Emergency Support Services with both meet and greet and emotional and spiritual care at the evacuation centre.
“The gratitude from the firefighters never ceases to amaze me at how something as simple as a meal and a cold bottle of water can make such a difference in their day. It is truly a gift to get to serve alongside of these men and woman who risk their lives to protect our homes and communities.” Shares Community Ministries Outreach Coordinator, Sonia Withers.
With over 424 hours between 55 volunteers to coordinate, Volunteer Coordinator, Suzie Docherty says she “is encouraged by the immediate and enthusiastic response to lend a hand in various capacities. We feel blessed to have also been supported by our neighbors to the south, Summerland Baptist Church who responded with teams that John McEwan, Divisional Emergency Disaster Services Director had previously trained.”
Catherine Williams, Emergency Support Services director summed up their appreciation of The Salvation Army who came alongside them to assist with the estimated 2,500 evacuees in just three small words, “We love them”. Partnering with ESS during times of disaster is not something new to the team in Kelowna. “We have worked closely with their team since the devastating 2003 fires and the reality is that since 2009 unfortunately a year hasn’t gone by that we have not been affected by some type of fire in our region.” Shares Community Ministries Director, Geri Grainger.
The Kelowna Salvation Army is grateful to everyone who participated in these fires, and to our donors who support us throughout the year to make it possible for us to carry on this very important work.