A message from Executive Director Michael Shapcott, Friday, Aug. 25, 2023
The wildfire evacuation order for the Sorrento Centre and our surrounding community was downgraded to an evacuation alert late on Friday afternoon.
Exactly one week after our staff team safely evacuated almost 200 guests as an out-of-control wildfire came roaring down from Adams Lake in the North Shuswap, and then the staff fled safely themselves, we are clear to return to our beloved Centre.
An evacuation alert means our staff team needs to keep their bags packed and must be ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice. The wildfire remains a threat.
Out of an abundance of caution for the health and well-being of our staff, Executive Director Michael Shapcott has asked staff to shelter in place for one more night. Most of the staff team will meet in the morning in Salmon Arm before we return to Sorrento.
The first priority will be to ensure staff have safe and healthy homes. Once that is secure, and as we continue to monitor the nearby fire, we will focus on our main campus, including a building-by-building audit, plus a full sweep of the grounds.
We will continue to be in touch with our neighbours, and emergency officials. Once it is safe to do so, we will again offer space on our campus for wildfire evacuees and work with others to assess needs as our neighbours start to return to their homes.
The Bush Creek East Wildfire started as two wildfires on the east and west sides of Adams Lake before merging and leaving a trail of devastation through the North Shuswap. A week ago, it jumped across the TransCanada Highway and moved quickly towards Sorrento and Chase. Officials are still assessing damage but there are reports that more than 130 homes and other buildings have been confirmed as destroyed in North Shuswap.
We don’t know yet whether the Sorrento Centre will re-open for our busy schedule of fall programming in September. We will post regular updates on our website and social media.
- We are grateful there are no reports of loss of life, though a great many lives have been deeply disrupted and the wildfire is not yet subdued.
- We are grateful for the diligent efforts of firefighters on the ground and in the air.
- We are grateful for the police and first responders.
- We are grateful for emergency services and the immediate support and relief that has been offered to evacuees, including Sorrento Centre staff.
- We are grateful to our friends near and far who have lifted us up in prayer and offered practical support.
- We lament the loss of homes and buildings and so much more.
As we move from relief to recovery and rebuilding, we want to urge all our neighbours and friends, near and far, to consider the dreadful impact of human-induced climate change in triggering devastating and extreme weather events, including heat, drought and wildfires.
There is much reckoning to do. We must continue to take action individually. Together, we need to ensure climate justice is realized in the Shuswap, across British Columbia and Canada, and around the globe.
More on that in the coming days…
Here is a prayer for climate justice from the Religious for the Sacred Heart:
Gracious God, Creator of All, we raise our hearts in grateful praise for all the beauty that surrounds us. May we learn to respect all as a sacred gift and do what we can to repair the damage we have caused through our consumerism, greed, and carelessness. Grant us an ecological conversion so that we can leave our next generation with a future full of hope where there is enough for all.
We ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.