Hundreds of evacuees from Northern Ontario wildfires arriving in Regina
Published Friday, July 12, 2019 12:32PM CST
Last Updated Friday, July 12, 2019 6:37PM CST
Hundreds of evacuees fleeing from fires in Northern Ontario have arrived in Regina, and even more are expected to be flown into Saskatchewan over the next few days.
Ringo Kepr is among the more than 300 evacuees who arrived in Regina on Thursday to escape ongoing wildfires. Another 300 are expected to land in Regina on Friday, and 200 in Saskatoon on Saturday.
When Kepr left his home on the Pikangikum First Nation in Northwestern Ontario, he said he had a bad feeling.
“Like something coming from my chest,” Kepr said. “I just want to go home.”
There are 500 dorm rooms available at the University of Regina, as well as 150 hotel rooms available to host up to 2,000 evacuees.
“They did send out liaison officers from the communities, so we have cultural officers and language translators and so on,” said Duane McKay, the fire commissioner for the province of Saskatchewan.
The province is working alongside the Red Cross to organize activities and arranging transportation, so the evacuees can shop for the things they need. The FSIN and tribal councils across the province are also assisting.
“All of these evacuations are very stressful on families,” said McKay. “They're very stressful on communities and the people, so we're trying to do this as best we can.”
McKay said the response from the community has been outstanding.
“We've got tremendous support from the City of Regina so far in terms of helping us to prepare for this,” said McKay. “Certainly a lot of volunteers are involved. We're not seeing any issues there at all. People (want) to assist.”
The Gathering Place is asking for wild meat, fish and berry donations, so it can prepare food for the evacuees.
There's no word on how long evacuees will need to stay in Saskatchewan, but the province has planned to accommodate the evacuees for at least one month.