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Unclear when Okanagan seniors evacuated from wildfire zones will return home: Interior Health

Close to 900 seniors have been relocated; health authority evaluating a number of factors for return home
A total of 186 residents were evacuated from Village at Smith Creek in West Kelowna due to the McDougall Creek wildfire. Interior Health does not have a concrete timeline on when the residents will return home as of Friday, Aug. 25, 2023. (Village at Smith Creek)

With evacuation orders gradually phasing out in the Central Okanagan, there’s still no word on when seniors evacuated from care facilities will return home, but Interior Health has assembled a team to guide the “complex planning and recovery work” ahead.

Close to 900 seniors have been relocated from nine facilities run by Interior Health, a spokesperson told Black Press Media Friday, Aug. 25.

The health authority did not provide a timeline for the return of the residents to their home communities, but communications consultant Gavin Halford says “a thoughtful, coordinated approach is needed to return residents safely home.”

Interior Health has formed a team to lead the journey home as evacuation alerts are rescinded.

Risk assessments of the care facilities are underway including evaluating factors such as evacuation orders and alerts, water and air quality, weather forecasts and updates from partners including Emergency Health Management BC and BC Wildfire.

“We will be working with our partners in the delivery of long-term care services to keep families of residents informed as plans progress,” Halford said.

“We sincerely appreciate staff who are doing everything they can to ensure residents from evacuated sites are well cared for and feel comfortable during this time. We’d also like to again extend our heartfelt thanks to our care partners in neighbouring health authorities, first responders, community volunteers and local and provincial governments.

“As difficult as these evacuations are, the safety of residents and staff must always be the top priority.”

Here is a list of the Interior Health sites that were evacuated along with the number of evacuated residents:

• The Highlands Retirement Residence, Kelowna — 30 residents

• Brandt’s Creek Mews, Kelowna — 98 residents

• Glenmore Lodge, Kelowna — 115 residents

• Lake Country Lodge Retirement and Care Community, Lake Country — 48 residents

• Lakeview Lodge Community, West Kelowna — 112 residents

• The Vineyards Residence, Kelowna — 126 residents

• Village at Smith Creek, West Kelowna – 186 residents

• Brookhaven Care Centre, West Kelowna — 95 residents

READ MORE: Reinforcements to arrive, Highway 1 to re-open as Shuswap wildfire continues to rage

READ MORE: ‘Pulling together in terrifying times’: Trudeau visits wildfire impacted Okanagan

Brendan Shykora
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Brendan Shykora

About the Author: Brendan Shykora

I started at the Morning Star as a carrier at the age of 8. In 2019 graduated from the Master of Journalism program at Carleton University.
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