High Prairie supports wildfire evacuees

Gordon Buchanan Recreation Centre in High Prairie opened as an evacuation reception centre May 20 for wildfire evacuees from the High Level area to register.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

High Prairie and Big Lakes County opened their doors to welcome residents evacuated from the High Level area where wildfires are spreading.

People are urged to donate food and clothing for an emergency evacuation centre set up at the Gordon Buchanan Recreation Centre on May 20.

Big Lakes County Family and Community Support Services operates the centre.

“FCSS fulfils the emergency social services (ESS) role for the county and the Town of High Prairie,” says county communications co-ordinator Victoria Zahacy. 

“The Town of High Level directed the evacuees to High Prairie and Slave Lake.”

Reception centres also opened in Peace River, Grande Prairie.

“The reception centre is not directly accepting general donations at this time,” Zahacy says.

The reception centre is in need of only baby wipes, baby lotion, baby hygiene products, baby powder or pods, and powdered laundry detergent.

Food can be donated to the High Prairie and District Food Bank.

“Donations can be placed in the food bank box at Freson Bros,” Zahacy says.

“People can also donate clothing to the High Prairie Native Friendship Centre, which will also be given to the evacuees.”

The reception centre holds 2,200 people and daily provides breakfast, lunch, and supper.

Evacuees can also register at the centre.

Anyone wishing to sponsor a meal can phone Patsy Campion at the reception centre at (780) 843-9563.

Campion can also be contacted by email to pcampion@biglakescounty.ca.

The High Prairie reception centre is closed from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Anyone who needs assistance in that time may phone (780) 523-0108.

For more information on clothing donations, phone (780) 523-4511.

Fire chief John McDermott and director of planning and development Pat Olansky were called to High Level on the evening of May 19.

“They are trained members of the Northwest Alberta All-Hazard Incident Management Team known as Alberta Task Force 1,” Zahacy says. 

Each member of Alberta Task Force 1 is required to be a municipal employee or municipal volunteer (volunteer firefighter or volunteer ESS staff) and their municipality must have signed the North West Emergency Resource Agreement.

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