Volunteers help setup an evacuation centre in Cloverdale on Sunday. (Lance Peverly/Peace Arch News)

Cloverdale wildfire evacuation centre to close Wednesday

Evacuees asked to instead seek out insurance providers, municipal governments, Red Cross for support

As of Wednesday (Aug. 30), the Cloverdale evacuation centre will be closed to wildfire evacuees.

Since the Emergency Social Services (ESS) centre opened on July 17, more than 4,400 people registered as wildfire evacuees at the centre, located at the Cloverdale Arena on the Cloverdale Rodeo and Exhibition Grounds in Surrey, B.C.

The centre was one of two to open in the Lower Mainland in response to the B.C. wildfire crisis. The other is located at Chilliwack Secondary in Chilliwack.

The ESS centre offered services such as food, lodging and clothing to registered evacuees.

According to City of Surrey Support Services Manager Kerri van Eaton, no one made use of the 108 cots set up in the arena during the summer, as no one required the use of overnight lodgings.

In July, during the height of the evacuee registration, there were as many as 13 RVs on the fairgrounds, making use of the Cloverdale Rodeo’s offer of free RV hookups for wildfire evacuees. But as of Aug. 28, there were no more RVs on site.

The registrations at the ESS centre have been slowing for weeks, leading to a cut back of the centre’s hours of operation and now a closure two days before the provincial state of emergency officially ends on Sept. 1.

Van Eaton said the City of Surrey is asking evacuees to connect with their insurance providers, their local municipal government or Red Cross Canada for continued support.

“We’re really extremely thankful for all the support from the community and their support for the evacuees,” said van Eaton.

“It is a really hard situation for the evacuees. It was really nice to see how Surrey stepped up to lend their support,” said van Eaton, referring to individuals, community groups and local businesses.

“Everyone came together to make a difference.”

Although van Eaton was unable to confirm how many City of Surrey staff members were dedicated to the ESS centre, she said there were about 130 volunteers who worked to staff the centre.

Donations of goods and cash to support evacuees will continue to be taken in by Salvation Army locations in Surrey, White Rock, Delta, Langley and New Westminster. Learn more at thriftstore.ca. Monetary donations can also be made to Red Cross at redcross.ca.

editor@cloverdalereporter.com