By Joanne Abshire, Canadian Red Cross communications staff in B.C.

“We don’t even know how to feel,” says Pat Gauthier.

Gauthier is one of thousands of people evacuated from their homes due to a fast-moving wildfire that broke out Thursday, July 6, near the village of Ashcroft, B.C. The fire swept through her tiny community nearby called Boston Flats. 

Photo_Evacuee-Pat-Gauthier_TRU_July-13-460-(2).jpgShe was with a friend picking up prescriptions in Kamloops, about 120 kilometres away, when the evacuation order was issued the day after the fire started. Her neighbours helped her husband get to safety. Unfortunately, her home was destroyed and she lost four cats.

“None of us know how to feel. Are we thankful? Are we angry? Are we happy? Are we frustrated? What are we? We don’t know. Very, very few of us, I’ll bet you, have ever been through this experience,” says Gauthier who turns 70 next month.

Despite the emotional roller coaster, she is in very good spirits and staying positive, highlighting most things lost can always be replaced.

“My antique wardrobe, the new couch I just bought, the new appliances I finally just got. It’s just stuff and it’s insured. Maybe I won’t get exactly what I had, but then again it’s only stuff.”
Gauthier, who is currently staying with her daughter in Kamloops, is grateful to have so much support from family.  She admits the help received goes beyond blood lines.

“There is nothing that any of us can do or say to tell people, the first responders, the volunteers, everybody, just how thankful we are for all of them. Kamloops has been amazing. Fort McMurray has been amazing. Every area is stepping up and helping everybody!” responds Gauthier with a smile.
It has been a stressful and overwhelming time for evacuees like her, but she says she’s doing her best to make self-care a priority.

“There’s so much to think about. I have to do this, and I have to do this, but sometimes you just have to sit back and say, ‘You know what, I’m just going to put my feet up for a few minutes and put my head back,’” she explains.

If you would like to help, you may donate to the Red Cross BC Fires Appeal.