Gathered around a fire, three flood-affected residents chat, share stories and laugh together at the Yarrow Food Hub.
Victoria Kuit offers the group sandwiches and fresh snacks as they talk about the aftermath of last November’s devastating rains in southwestern British Columbia and how they are still trying to rebuild their homes, livelihoods livelihood and mental health.
When properties in the Fraser Valley flooded, Kuit opened the hub in his backyard in Chilliwack, about 80 kilometers east of Vancouver, so neighbors could eat for free and stock up.
Over the next six months, it transformed into a community space for residents to reflect and bond – “a place where neighbors can meet and connect and take a break from their properties and the devastation,” Kuit said.
A few hundred residents continue to visit the center, which is open five days a week, she said, noting that the need for donations is far from over following one of Colombia’s most devastating natural disasters. -British.
Last November, southwestern British Columbia was hit by torrential rains that caused landslides, highway collapses and catastrophic flooding in several communities. Farms were flooded, the cattle were lostand hundreds of properties were evacuated, including many in the Fraser Valley.
The Kuit Food Center is one of many places in the valley still offering a helping hand with donations and free services for flood victims.
As well as hot meals, tools and clothing, the center recently started offering mental health support through a grant, with a counselor coming weekly.
“We have people there who still need help,” Kuit said.
“We are currently still looking for furniture, rebuilding materials…gas cards are obviously mint right now.”
Inside the Gateway Community Church in nearby Abbotsford, shelves are stocked with food and cleaning supplies at the pantry, a project that also began in response to the flooding.
About 25 to 30 families still rely on the pantry each week, says Pastor Marcel DeRegt.
“The impact on people’s lives is still huge. We continue to affect large numbers of people who are still sleeping in hotels,” DeRegt said.
In Abbotsford, 202 people remain in temporary accommodation and still cannot return to their homes, Mayor Henry Braun said.
Across the province, at least 1,150 households are still displaced, according to Emergency Management BC
These figures only include those who have registered with the Red Cross and not those staying with family or friends, or being cared for by other means.
But even those returning to their properties face major repairs, potentially gutting their homes and bearing the cost of their lost possessions – and, in some cases, their livelihoods.
DeRegt says the pantry is still accepting donations and is now permanently established in the church for flood-affected families and others in need.
“They can come and shop with dignity…they can grab what they need when they need it,” he said.
Charities receive funds for emergency and long-term support
In the Fraser Valley, 25 charities have received grants for flood relief efforts, ranging from immediate emergency response to long-term recovery, with the Abbotsford Disaster Relief Fund (ADRF).
The fund was created days after the flood by the Abbotsford Community Foundation, the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce and the University of the Fraser Valley, and has since received more than $4 million in donations from residents. and businesses, according to Abbotsford Community Foundation executive director Wendy Neufeld.
More than 50% of the donations have been allocated and the rest are earmarked, she said.
“We are still determined that every dollar we raise will go to help flood victims. Donations. .
“There’s still an incredible need…we want to make sure awareness is still maintained on the issues they’re facing.”
Other examples of charities providing services are the Chilliwack Bowls of Hope, which provide free hot meals to flood-affected families, and the Abbotsford Hospice, which provides counseling services to support the mental health of residents.