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Help emerging for evacuees and their pets in Kamloops, Okanagan

Two cats on a cat tower

November 16, 2021 - 7:00 PM

Communities in the southern Interior are working to provide the bare necessities for evacuees in the wake of severe flooding yesterday.

Unprecedented rain Nov.15 put several communities under water including Abbotsford, Princeton and Merritt.

Some Kamloops residents are reporting the Emergency Services Centre is overstuffed, and some are taking matters into their own hands.

Kamloops resident Debra Ryan went to the centre today to offer help.

“I know our community is doing everything they possibly can to help,” Ryan said. “Today I saw seniors standing out in the cold in a long lineup.”

She asked if anyone needed a place to stay and ended up opening her home to a man, his daughter and their cat. She immediately went shopping to get food.

It's not the first time she has taken in evacuees.

“We used to run a bed and breakfast and have taken in evacuees from the wildfires in 2017, and more during the wildfires this summer,” she said. “At one point I had 14 evacuees stay with me for two weeks. It was a wonderful experience and they are lifelong friends now.”

Ryan grew up with parents who were regular volunteers so the act of giving back is instilled in her. She finds out what the evacuees need and don’t need, and buys and prepares food for them free of charge.

“We can afford it,” she said. “Typically evacuees are experiencing trauma. They are often very quiet, respectful and thankful for any help any of us can give. If you can help, I suggest going to the emergency centre and just asking around.”

Dr. Moshe Oz at the Rose Valley Veterinary Hospital is known to take in evacuated pets during crisis. The clinic is opening again to meet some of the need for pet care and boarding, after housing 80 cats this summer due to wildfire evacuations.

“Even though we’re in Kelowna, if people from any affected areas need medication, food or shelter for their cats we can do it for free,” Oz said. “We are unable to take in any more dogs at this point. We already have two large dogs and six puppies, and one of them needs to have a big surgery here tomorrow because the owners can’t get to Vancouver.”