Over 2,500 people from the far corners of northwestern BC, to as far south as 100 Mile House came to Prince George this weekend for the annual Jehovah’s Witnesses Convention.
With evacuation orders issued in central parts of the province, 130 families (a total of 306 people) who attended the convention are now unable to return home.
“We have an agreement with the CN Centre for a number of days where we rent the facilities, and it includes the grounds. We rent the stampede grounds and the parking lots,” says Dale Johnson, the Chairman of the Disaster Relief Committee at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses. “After our convention was over, we asked permission from the City and CN Centre if they would mind if these refugees- these people who have been displaced– could stay for a few extra days. The City was kind enough to allow them to stay parked.”
5 local congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses are looking after the needs of evacuees. They are providing sewage, water, food and anything else that is required on-site.
More trailers have been brought in from the Prince George Jehovah’s Witnesses. Families in the local congregations have also taken in evacuees.
Johnson says the community has been great. “The CN Centre, they’ve allowed us to stay. They have offered us the use of their facilities there. We had a contract with them and so they have been very kind to allow us continue that contract for our use only. The City has been great. We have had some of the local politicians come and check on our folks to give them direction as to where to go to register. They have offered food at no cost. We think about the fire fighters; local folks that sometimes aren’t appreciated, but we have been given such clear direction from these people that we feel really secure and looked after.”
Now all that’s left to do is wait.”Our friends are concerned and our families are a little bit stressed, but they are getting the emotional and spiritual help that they need on a daily basis,” says Johnson. “We have made visits to almost every family over there. They are playing the waiting game. There’s rumors floating around, but as the information comes in from the authorities that’s what we pass on so people don’t get upset. They are happy, they are content and looked after.”
A disaster administrative centre for the group has also been set up at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses on 15 Avenue.