UNDER EVACUATION: Sleeping in cars and tents

“People are being really generous and that’s the difference”

One in a ten-part series showcasing the volunteerism, community and resilience surrounding those evacuated due to the wildfires engulfing parts of the B.C. Interior.

Kristin Reynolds arrived in Prince George in the early hours Sunday morning, with her two dogs Tweeks and Fraser, as many items from around her house she could grab and one pair of flip flops.

But don’t expect her to complain about it.

“I think I’ve got it pretty good, like a lot better than a lot of other people,” she said outside the Emergency Operations Centre at the College of New Caledonia.

Admittedly still riding the wave of adrenaline that activates when one is thrown into chaos and nights of unrest, Reynolds is making a home away from home in a donated tent with enough room for her two loyal companions and the few mementos she could grab in the dark.

Reynolds received the “time to leave” knock on the door of her and her husband’s “retirement home” in Horsefly at about 9:30 p.m.

See, living off the grid means that when it’s dark outside, it’s dark inside, Reynolds explained. You can walk into a room, pass a pile of important items and just completely forget about it, but grab useless junk – which may have had something to do with why she has a few empty canvases and markers in her trunk.

“We gathered up our stuff in a matter of about 15 minutes and we were out of there…. we just fled, stopped in Quesnel, got some gas and came here.”

The first night – refusing to let her dogs out of her sight – she slept in the passenger seat of her four-door car parked in one of the campus parking lots while her dogs got fresh air outside on two long leashes.

By the second night, she was sleeping inside a donated tent, matched with a donated mattress and a Canadian Red Cross fleece blanket.

“I was paralyzed when I got here until I got the tent,” she said. “Once I got the tent it was perfect. I could unload the car a bit – you know – just get some space around so I could sort the randomness.”

She’s made her space dog-proof, with a little fence to keep Fraser and Tweeks from exploring the town she hopes she doesn’t have to stay in for too long.

And although she’s doing the best to make the four-person tent feel as much like a home as possible – even getting acquainted with her neighbours – being without her husband, who stayed in Williams Lake working, in a tent setup on a mix of gravel and concrete was not where she thought she’d be this week.

“I don’t want to get comfortable because I’m in a tent and I didn’t plan to be camping, so it’s not like camping at all, it’s really not.”

RELATED: B.C. has spent $90 million fighting fires

Among random mementos, too much clothes and a bunch of things that are absolutely useless inside her tent, it’s a little radio that’s keeping her sane.

“I brought my radio fortunately and that’s kinda been my salvation, is just being able to turn the radio on and go to sleep at night was like amazing last night.”

While the radio got her through the nights, it’s the people of Prince George that get her through the day.

“Driving in the parking lot they were handing out hamburgers last night from a barbecue that they had for the evacuees and stuff,” she said. “People are giving out shoes and slippers and blankets. It looks like stuff they’ve just gathered up out of the neighbourhood…

“People are doing things that you don’t normally see like young people volunteering is really huge – there’s more young people volunteering in there than I’ve ever seen.”

RELATED: Lotto winner to help wildfire evacuees

The kindness takes her mind off what she left behind: a house purchased with their life savings and no insurance, her pig named Dotty and her cows.

“I’m probably most worried about the animals that I’ve had to leave behind and the water situation,” she said. “I know it’s really hot in the Horsefly area and really windy and there’s not a whole lot of water out there.”

There’s also the looming unknown of when and if she’ll get to go home. Questions no one can give any sort of answers to – no fault of their own, she said.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen. I hope everything is fine and safe and that the evacuation was maybe just an exit issue.”

Having neighbours who have been living in the parking lot for more than 10 days, Reynolds is remaining positive.

“…. I don’t want to be devastated because I don’t know what’s happening right? It could be good. It could be totally fine.”

Just Posted

New report on 2017 wildfires calls for better coordination with First Nations

Tsilhqot’in National Government documents 2017 disaster and lists 33 calls to action

BC Bus North service extended to September

Transportation ministers have extended the service, which was set to expire at the end of May

Annual 100 Mile House Easter Egg Hunt a great success

Around 200 kids showed up to scavenge for chocolate

Woman dies after suffering ‘medical event’ while driving north of Lac la Hache

Initial report was that an older female had driven into the side of a hill, was not responsive

Cariboo Women’s Fair returns with new organizer

The sixth annual event will take place on May 3 and 4 at the South Cariboo Recreation Centre

VIDEO: Driver in bizarre hit-and-run at B.C. car dealership turns herself in

Police believe alcohol was a factor in incident causing estimated $15,000 in damages

‘B.C. cannot wait for action’: Top doctor urges province to decriminalize illicit drugs

Dr. Bonnie Henry says current approach in ‘war on drugs’ has criminalized and stigmatized drug users

B.C. woman, 76, challenges alcohol-screening laws after failing to give breath sample

Norma McLeod was unable to provide a sample because of her medical conditions

B.C. youth coach banned amid sexual harassment, bullying scandal: Water Polo Canada

Justin Mitchell can’t take part in Water Polo Canada events or clubs

Wilson-Raybould: Feds want to just ‘manage the problem’ of Indigenous Peoples

Former federal justice minister speaks at First Nations Justice Council meeting in B.C.

Haida youth travels to New York for UN forum on Indigenous issues

Haana Edensaw presented her speech in Xaad Kil, Masset dialect of the Haida language

Female real estate agents warned of suspicious man in Metro Vancouver

The man requests to see homes alone with the female agent, police say

Can you put your phone down for Mother’s Day?

#DiningMode campaign encourages people to leave the phone alone while eating

Horgan heckled as gas prices sit at record high, could go up more

Premier John Horgan blames refiners, not taxes

Most Read