Firefighter training, fire department equipment and VHF radio repeaters will be seeing an influx of cash soon.
Over $64,000 has been donated to Rotary clubs throughout the Cariboo for wildfire recovery and prevention efforts.
Rotary District 5040 governor Don Evans was in the Cariboo last week to give out the money – $16,000 to each of the four clubs spread from 100 Mile House to Quesnel.
“It started when the fires were burning,” said Evans.
He touched base with his partner governor in Alberta to see what was done by Rotary following the Fort McMurray fires.
The answer was a wildfire fund.
The district, which stretches from Tsawwassen to Prince Rupert, set up an account and started accepting donations.
One of the first cheques written came from the club in Fort McMurray.
Donations came from as far away as Ontario, said Evans, and individuals also donated to the fund.
“It’s just built over time. This month, what we are doing is we are just dispersing all of the funds.”
The Rotary district asked each club to come up with a project for the donations, that would go to either wildfire prevention or long-term sustainable recovery.
“What the clubs have put forward are mostly around future prevention which is exciting. The creative things each of the clubs have put forward, from just training the volunteer firefighters so they don’t have to stand and watch, so they are certified to take action. These are important steps that can make a difference should a similar thing start in the future,” said Evans.
The 100 Mile House Rotary Club will be using their $16,000 to support local fire departments says rotary president Linda Jefferson.
“We’re trying to provide what they’re requesting on their wish list,” she says. “Some of them are looking for pumps for hoses, for fittings for their pumps, they’re looking for gear. Basically whatever a fire department needs.”
Jefferson says they were excited to receive the money and will keep the public up to date when the exact equipment purchases have been made.
In Williams Lake, the Daybreak Rotary Club will be using their $16,000 to support the Cariboo Chilcotin Amateur Radio Society in upgrading the VHF radio repeater network from Anahim Lake to Williams Lake, said Williams Lake Daybreak President Ingolf Sandberg.
“The whole purpose of this money was to be able to support groups in where the money has not been available. and communication is huge to get the word out and not just with fires but all kinds of different types of emergencies.”
Evans and his wife Deb Sankey are on their third trip to the area since Evans has become governor. The first took place over Stampede weekend, and the second took place shortly after the fires. They also visited Prince George when much of the Cariboo was evacuated to the Northern city.
“We know that the long-term effects of the fires are still being felt with people that didn’t return and businesses that didn’t make it through,” said Evans. “But we see optimism and we see the communities getting going again, so that is encouraging.”
With files from Max Winkelman.