November 30, 2021
By Janice Biehn
As reported on November 18, PWRDF is accepting donations to support relief and recovery efforts in lower British Columbia where floods have destroyed farms and infrastructure. Since then, generous donors across Canada have contributed more than $36,000 to the cause. PWRDF has consulted with Bishops of New Westminster, Caledonia, Kootenay, Islands and Inlets and the Territory of the People. An initial solidarity grant of $10,000 was given on November 29 to the Diocese of New Westminster. The funds will support vulnerable displaced people and migrant workers at an Evacuation Centre near the Abbotsford airport.
“The flood response has been very localized,” Bishop John Stephens told Naba Gurung, Humanitarian Relief Coordinator for PWRDF. Bishop John described several parishes and clergy supporting people in need around the diocese:
- In Hope, B.C., the vicar at Christ Church, the Rev. Timothy Morgan, along with many volunteers from the parish and the community, opened the hall as a place of refuge. People were able to get warm and get food.
- All Saints Church in Agassiz was open as a place of refuge to those stranded or fleeing the flooding.
- The Venerable Allan Carson, rector of St. John the Baptist in Sardis, was stranded in his car for many hours. Eventually he was able to get home and then be part of the outreach to those in need in Sardis and Chilliwack.
It was the Rev. Paul Richards, a deacon at Church of the Holy Trinity in White Rock, and the Rev. Allen Doerksen, rector of St. Matthew’s in Abbotsford, who alerted Bishop John to the needs at the Evacuation Centre. The Diocese has already provided $1,000 in Walmart gift cards to people there to buy toiletries, basic clothing and food. Other clergy have also been going to the Evacuation Centre to offer help and pastoral care.
The needs continue at the centre, according to Abbotsford Emergency Social Services (ESS). “The Centre has had another influx of individuals, including vulnerable people such as Migrant Farm Workers,” writes Deacon Paul, “and some displaced persons are coming from Chilliwack and other areas.”
In consultation with ESS, it was determined that another $1,000 in gift cards would be supplied for immediate, basic essentials for individuals and families in emergency lodging. The remaining $9,000 will support the Salvation Army Emergency Food Services, which is providing all meals, snacks and beverages to individuals and volunteers at the centre.
“There is a particular need for fruit and vegetables during the crisis,” writes Deacon Paul, noting that fresh produce is particularly expensive. This PWRDF allocation will go directly to ongoing relief food services to displaced and vulnerable persons.
Gurung and PWRDF Executive Director Will Postma are also consulting with Archbishop Mark MacDonald on how best to respond to the crisis in Indigenous communities in B.C. in the aftermath of the floods.
You can help:
Give to PWRDF’s B.C. Flood Emergency Response by clicking here, or going to pwrdf.org/give-today and clicking on B.C Flood. You may also donate by phone at 416-822-9083 or leave a voicemail toll-free at 1-866-308-7973 and we will return your call, or mail your cheque to PWRDF, 80 Hayden, 3rd floor, Toronto, Ontario, M4Y 3G2. Please mark B.C. Flood in the memo line.