RVs and motorhomes—our emergency homes away from home
Local RV parks are going above and beyond to help during B.C.'s devastating wildfire season
So far this summer, over 42,000 evacuees have put pets and belongings into a vehicle and headed away from Interior wildfires in favour of evacuation centres in safer B.C. communities.
The luckiest families were those with an RV home to fall back on. The long lines of vehicles leaving fire-threatened towns suggest around one in 10 displaced families were RVers on their way to family, friends or RV parks in fire-safe locations.
The question is—in the middle of what should have been a bumper tourist season, will those parks be able to accommodate the evacuees? As I soon discovered, the owners of many RV parks are well ahead of the question.
Doing their bit to help are Prince George residents Edward and May Yeh at MamaYeh RV Park, and Cindy Brodhagen and Les Munro at Hartway RV Park.
Both parks are in Prince George and both offer bed and breakfast alternatives. Edward Yeh said MamaYeh welcomed its first evacuees on July 9th.
“I was quite stunned about the forest fire ravaging Williams Lake,” he wrote. “After the first family came, more evacuees arrived with their RVs as temporary homes. We currently have 10 (evacuee) families living in the park.”
Edward says MamaYeh is a low-density RV park with 24 full-service sites. Plans are in the works for another 23 sites and for public showers, washrooms and laundry. For now, though, at 110’ X 25’, the size of MamaYeh RV pull-through sites may just be the largest in B.C., or, as Edward explained, “they’re pretty huge with extra-large green buffers.”
The Hartway Park boasts 45 full-service RV sites, all sitting among landscaped gardens and trees. Public showers, washrooms, laundry and sani-dump are all available.
“So far, we have 14 evacuee families at Hartway,” said Cindy. Some of those families are tenting, so when the temperature drops to 7 degrees (Celsius), they get pretty cold at night. “We offered space inside for their sleeping bags,” Cindy said, “but they insisted they’d be OK in the tent.”
“On Sunday, we held a free salmon bake for everyone—lots of donations. We asked our local Save-On if they could give us a small discount but, when we told them why, they donated everything! Another lady in the park brought a HUGE Caesar salad. Blew us away!” she said.
And then there’s the parade of folk who arrived from Alberta’s Fort McMurray. Accompanied by much thumbs-up horn-blowing, the painted sign on their flat-bed trailers—“We ♥ BC”—brought tears to everyone’s eyes.
So despite the dismay we share at the fast-travelling human-caused brush fire in the Okanagan’s Lake Country that destroyed eight homes, we humans can be a pretty decent lot when we work at it.
Unfortunately, this year’s hot, dry fire season isn’t over by a longshot. So the more we can spread the word about the ways we can help, even from a distance, the less the lasting devastation will be in the long-term.
Love to all and stay safe.
When RV owners become fire evacuees who need accommodation in one or more RV parks, this is the path to follow:
1. Call the park(s) you have chosen to make sure they have space available. Tell them you are fire evacuees and say you will call them back as soon as you’re given your registration details.
2. Register as fire evacuees at your closest reception centre. At the same time, tell them you want to register your chosen park(s) as “suppliers.”
3. Contact the park(s) to confirm the bookings and tell them they are now registered as one of your suppliers. That will qualify you to book without paying for the site.
4. Be sure to book the date and number of days you will need to stay there.
5. If anything should change—e.g. if you are given permission to return home—notify the park and your evacuation centre immediately.