Peace River welcomes wildfire evacuees

Susan Thompson
Express Staff

Alongside the communities of Slave Lake, High Prairie, La Crete and Grande Prairie, the town of Peace River has been welcoming wildfire evacuees and helping them access aid.

Misery Mountain Ski Hill has been converted to serve as the Peace River reception centre for evacuees, and as of late last week had registered about 600 evacuees from the High Level and Paddle Prairie areas.

Peace River Councillor Orren Ford reported to council at their regular May 27 meeting that he had been volunteering at the reception centre to help greet new evacuees.

“A lot of the evacuees I talked to are so appreciative of the hospitality and the generosity of the businesses and the residents of Peace River and the region,” Ford said.

Mayor Tom Tarpey stated that Peace River has been happy to be able to help provide evacuees with support during a trying time.

“It looks like the [High Level] fire controls are going to hold so hats off to the Alberta forest fire fighting service, and they can count on Peace River now and in the future to help out wherever is needed,” Tarpey said.

“We had our senior managment take some training that was based on the learnings from Slave Lake and Fort MacMurray [wildfires], so I think what you’ll find from people that have registered at the centre is that it is well organized and the services that they need are being well delivered.”

“I’m very proud of our people in the town office, particularly those that have volunteered and put in extra time to help out. There is quite a bit of pride that we have been able to deliver this program if not flawlessly then at least very well, and in the response from the general citizens of Peace River towards the evacuees,” Mayor Tarpey said.

Peace River companies and residents have been offering everything from a free matinee movie at River City Cinema, to free gym time at the Al Adair rec centre, to multiple free community meals and barbeques.

All information on local community events and support for evacuees has been available at the reception centre.

With a new influx of evacuees, hotel rooms in Peace River had reached capacity by late last week and new evacuees needing a place to stay were being advised to head to the High Prairie Reception Centre at the Gordon Buchanan Center, 5409 49 St. Peace River did still have space at local campgrounds, including Rendez-Vous RV Park. The Town of Peace River is providing updates on the Town Facebook page and website.

For more information, contact the Peace River evacuee reception centre at: 780-624-4881.

Up-to-date information on all current areas being evacuated and supports such as financial aid for evacuees is available online at https://alberta.ca/emergency/ or by calling 1-844-643-2789.

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