It is with the upmost gratitude that I want to thank all responders and volunteers who have helped save lives and protect and support our community during this very difficult time.
The Central Okanagan Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) is activated during a major emergency where municipal and provincial representatives from our region come together to coordinate responses and resources, facilitate decisions, and where all official communications regarding the emergency originate. Continue to follow cordemergency.ca for updates. The EOC has been called a gold standard for emergencies in Canada.
We heard over and over at the press conferences how resources from various jurisdictions were working closely together to save lives and property. The day the State of Emergency was declared in the City of Kelowna and the District of Lake Country, I formally requested to the federal Minister of Emergency Preparedness to “take whatever steps are necessary to expedite the requests of the EOC”, and I continued to reiterate this.
I can say on a personal note, that I have seen civil servants and locally elected leaders from all levels of government communicating and working together during the emergency to keep people safe and get information out. As we emerge from this immediate crisis, we have to recognize the great loss that will affect many for a long time. We have to remember most lost “structures” are homes. Not only will there be property and both personal and business financial losses but supporting each other’s mental wellness will be important as well.
Residents have been calm and overwhelmingly compassionate opening their homes and hearts. It was important for me to visit the emergency shelter at Prospera Place and the Emergency Support Services location at Royal LePage Place to connect with organizers there. Though there will likely be operational lessons learned, all staff and volunteers I spoke with were trying their hardest to serve and help as best they could.
It was an honour to volunteer at the Salvation Army Kelowna’s Emergency Disaster Services kitchen stationed at the firefighting base camp at UBCO which was feeding hundreds of firefighters from our community and from outside our region. I’ll share that while I was volunteering beside someone whose family had lost their home, I heard how many restaurants and caterers were donating substantial quantities of food and high-quality meals to feed to firefighters. I’ve ran into many people who, like myself, volunteered and supported the Central Okanagan Food Bank over the past week. I extend my thanks to you.
There are many stories emerging across the community of what I’ve often called “The Spirit of Kelowna-Lake Country”. Thank you to the uncountable number of cultural groups, worship centers, businesses, and charities doing what you can to provide food and needed supplies to our community members. There will be an ongoing need at local food banks to maintain supplies and we’ve heard one of the best ways to help people is to donate or volunteer at food banks and other local not for profits as they have distribution and organizational capabilities.
It will also be important to support our local businesses now more than ever. As well, if it’s possible to buy locally made products to donate, that helps the greater community even more. Our constituency office team is always here to help as best we can with any federal services. Thank you again to all civil servants, responders, community organizations, businesses and citizens helping people in what ways you can. Stay safe and stay well.
If you need assistance with federal programs or have any thoughts to share, feel free to reach out, at 250-470-5075 or at [email protected].