By Angela Hill, Red Cross communications aid worker
Register with Red Cross for assistance - redcross.ca/gethelp

Sandra O’Grady shares her story of evacuation with Canadian Red Cross communications aid worker Angela Hill. O’Grady says having the police come to the door and say they have to leave causes a lot of anxiety, but she said the support she has received since arriving in Kamloops has been “wonderful”. O’Grady met with Red Cross volunteers to register for financial assistance. Photo courtesy: Marko Kokic/Canadian Red Cross


It was a slow journey as people evacuated from Williams Lake on Saturday evening, with many driving all night to get to Kamloops. For some, the experience was almost overwhelming.
 
“I was full of anxiety,” said Sandra O’Grady, recalling how she felt when police came to the door to tell her she had to leave her home. “It’s like you freeze.”
 
With prompting from her family including calls from her daughter and grandson, she was able to pack up and leave alongside, the thousands of other residents from her community.
 
Things started to get better when Sandra arrived in Kamloops. Tents were set up around the Sandman Centre, which acted as the reception centre for all the evacuees. Services being offered included places to get coffee and snacks, information tables, pet care and supplies, and a man in a wheelchair was offering free hugs.
 
“Everybody has been so wonderful,” Sandra said.
 
She was able to register with Emergency Social Services and the Canadian Red Cross to gain access to supports and supplies she needed.
 
“They’re giving you stuff, they’re giving good directions, it’s terrific,” said Ed Simister, another Williams Lake evacuee.
 

Eligible, registered households are able to receive $600 in direct financial assistance through an electronic funds transfer. Evacuees can register online or by calling 1-800- 863-6582.

 
“I’m grateful for all the help that’s here,” said Catrina Biggar, who evacuated from Williams Lake with her seven-year-old daughter, 11-year-old son, her mom, family friends, two dogs and two cats.
 
“How much people come together can change your life.”
 
Her friend Bryan Millar agrees.
 
“It’s been a humbling experience,” he said and added that whereever they are, he is offering to help those around him.
 
“Might as well help the people that need the help … there are people who need more help than me.”