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Prince George residents out in force to help fire evacuees

As Cariboo wildfire evacuees continue to make their way to Prince George, so too does the drive to help from local citizens.
Betty-June Gair stands by a parking lot where evacuees are camping at the College of New Caledonia. Gair has been helping with the volunteer efforts by sometimes just simply giving people hugs.

As Cariboo wildfire evacuees continue to make their way to Prince George, so too does the drive to help from local citizens.

Amid the massive outpouring of public support, community members, local organizations and businesses are offering their time, free services and special discounts.

Some community members are offering their own properties and homes to those displaced.

And for others, like longtime community volunteer Betty-June Gair, even a simple hug can help ease the pain for those who have had to flee their homes.

"I went to the college to see if they needed any more volunteers for the people who have been evacuated from their homes," Gair said.

"Before I got there, I saw some tents in the parking lot. I stopped and asked if I could help."

A woman assured Gair that she, her children playing nearby and her pets were all fine.

"But she said she would sure like a hug and there were tears in her eyes. I gave her a hug and then a few others wanted a hug and came to thank me for being so nice. They were so appreciative and I said I am happy that they were all safe and sound," Gair said.

"I went home and was counting my blessings as I know somewhere, someone would do the same."

For Andrew Snih, offering his property to displaced animals was just the right thing to do.

"We have room for horses and sheep and for people with RVs or for those would just like to camp," Snih said. "It was just something I wanted to do especially when you think of putting yourself in the same situation."

Tammy Young lives just outside of Prince George and she too has offered her property for evacuees and animals in need.

"There just wasn't a question. I wanted to help," Young said.

"It's the right thing to do, to step up and help. And I think it eases people's minds to know they are in a safe place."

The Royal Canadian Legion has offered space for families looking for a quiet and private space to stay.

John Scott, service officer at the Legion and Vice President of BC Yukon Command, says there are rooms available for those that need them.

"We are a community organization and we want to be there. We have to step up and make sure these people are looked after," Scott said.

"We would like to see families come in and have some quiet time and we could always use more volunteers to lend a hand."

The Caledonia Ski Club is also offering space for those in need of a place to camp.

"We saw people in need and we have the space," said John Bowes, manager at the club.

The club is providing space for tents and RV trailers as well as washroom facilities and tap water for anyone who has been dislocated.

"I witnessed the Fort McMurray fires. The Nordic Caledonia Community is so helpful. Everyone is on board."

Whether offering a hug or a home, people like Gair and many others in Prince George are ready to help.

"I'm amazed at what everyone is doing and with such compassion," she said.

"It's important to give back. I'm so proud of the people of Prince George."

Residents wishing to provide accommodation can do so via social media including the City of Prince George Facebook page at:

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