Soda Creek Road resident Sharon Mallard with Samaritan’s Purse volunteer Andy Northup, who helped her sort through the fire damage at her property from the White Lake fire last summer. Samaritan’s Purse confirmed this week it will be setting up an office in Williams Lake in the new year to continue helping fire victims. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

Samaritan’s Purse heading back to assist Cariboo wildfire victims

Organization plans to work alongside people who have experienced loss

A volunteer organization that was instrumental in helping uninsured and under-insured wildfire victims this summer will be returning to work out of Williams Lake in the new year.

“We will be working directly alongside folks that have experienced loss and helping connect them with whatever supports they need to move forward with their recovery, whether it’s with other organizations or whether it’s with private business,” said Brent Davis, response director for Samaritan’s Purse Canada. “It something we’ve been doing over the past year in Fort McMurray and it’s been absolutely incredible.”

Davis said the “huge footprint” of these fires presents unique challenges to getting people the help they need.

The intent is not to go in to help people with a specific solution, and driving them toward that solution, Davis explained.

“We are taking an individual approach with each family that wants to work with us and helping them develop a recovery plan and providing resources to help them achieve that plan.”

It is hoped that individuals that are working through the aftermath of losing their homes and property won’t have to knock on the doors of every organization in the community to see where they can find supports.

“We try to compile all the information to help.”

Davis said they are in the process of determining where to set up an office in Williams Lake and Samaritan’s Purse recovery program manager Steve Gross will be in the lakecity next week to sort out the details.

“We are hoping to be operational by January, with some unmet needs assessments and are already connecting with community members, not just in Williams Lake, but in 100 Mile House and Quesnel and want to be able to reach down into the Thompson Nicola Regional District (TNRD) which is where we were working originally back in the late summer.”

During the summer, between the Cariboo Regional District and the TNRD Samaritan’s Purse assisted 125 families with 87 volunteers who provided 2,520 hours of service, Davis said.

“While based in Williams Lake, our teams will be reaching out to rural communities that were impacted to ensure no one is left behind.”

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