Support for Telegraph Creek evacuees has been coming in province-wide, and organizers say the amount of donations received in the past couple days has been enormous.
One of the main locations for donations is at 5412 Hwy 16 West in Terrace, where the building is being used to sort through goods and deliver them to evacuees as of Tuesday, according to volunteers Sascha Llewellyn and Sandra Carlick. Sandra said food and water are the main focuses right now – clothing donations are not accepted at this time.
“We do not have a system set up, nor the manpower to set that system up, to accept them,” she said. “Anything else but clothing right now.”
Donations have been received from across the northwest, including Terrace, Kitimat, Kitwanga and the Nass Valley. A full list of items still needed can be found on the Telegraph Creek Donation Drive page.
Sandra said people started arriving in Terrace on Tuesday following an evacuation order from the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine.
“People stayed in Dease Lake and Iskut, people were staying with family members, friends, and then whoever couldn’t find a place to stay came down here.”
Volunteers are trying to catch up sorting through what has already been donated over the last couple days, separating food from toiletries and dried goods as they continuously come in.
Some of the volunteers at the donation centre are evacuees themselves, including 55-year old Yvonne Tashoots from the Tahltan Nation, who had been sorting through donations Wednesday. She said was one of the last evacuees out of Telegraph Creek, and left when BC Forestry crews did as the fire grew.
“I do a whole bunch of little things to help,” she said as she pulled over another box of donated canned goods to sort through.
“It’s amazing as to what an impact Tahltans have made out here in the real world, and to look at this all come to us is totally amazing. Totally amazing.”
More volunteers are needed to keep up with everything they’ve been receiving.
“If anybody wants to volunteer, just show up when you can and stay as long as you can,” Sandra said.
The building was given by Progressive Ventures to use as a place to store all the donations as they pick up, which are then delivered to evacuees in Dease Lake and Iskut, and to Kitselas Hall and the Kitsumkalum Community Hall.
The hall is being used as a ‘one-stop shop’ to help service people in need, some who had left their homes with just the clothes on their backs. Volunteers are providing lunch and dinner, doctors are on hand to fill out prescriptions, and emotional supports are available.
Calvin Carlick, executive director of the Tahltan Central Government, has been handling all of the donations since evacuation efforts started.
“For me, it’s been emotional for sure. I wake up at five, six o’clock in the morning, and you just can’t help but have tears for your community members,” he said.
“But all in all, it’s been equally just as good to see how much people have come together,”
He said that so far, they’ve has received over $100,000 in donations from First Nations, companies, and individual donations for recovery efforts – just the e-transfers alone have maxed-out Carlick’s personal limit on his bank account.
“So many First Nations, so many companies offering just major donations, there’s a lot of individual e-transfers coming in from random people whose names I don’t even recognize. They’re donating anywhere from $30 dollars to $500 dollars right up to $1,000 dollars,” he said.
“That’s individual people just helping how they can.”
An official Tahltan Fire Relief Fund has been set up for direct deposit, and Carlick stressed that people should donate to the proper channels to make sure all funds are being handled appropriately by the Tahltan Central Government, either by e-transfer or cheque.
If you are in need of emergency assistance due to the fires near Telegraph Creek and have sought safety in Terrace, the ESS Reception Centre is located at 4545 Lazelle Avenue where they will help you with accommodation and groceries. Call the RDKS for more information at 250-615-6100.
If you would like to place a monetary donation through email transfer email to firstname.lastname@example.org, password: Telegraph.