A message from Executive Director Michael Shapcott, Saturday, Aug. 26, 2023
A number of Sorrento Centre staff returned to our main campus and farm Saturday as the wildfire evacuation order was downgraded to an alert (which means we have to be ready to leave on a moment’s notice).
The devastating wildfire that roared through the North Shuswap and then jumped south to Sorrento remains out-of-control and volatile. All Saturday afternoon, a pair of helicopters circled our farm scooping water from the Shuswap to drop on nearby flames.
The first priority for our staff is to assess and clean up their homes so they have a healthy and safe place to live. We did a quick visual scan of the main campus and farm and will start to do a detailed assessment on Monday and into the week.
One week ago on Friday, our staff safely evacuated almost 200 guests and then staff evacuated in the face of the advancing wildfire. There was plenty of evidence today of the organized but hasty departure. We had a multi-day power outage which spoiled food in fridges and freezers, including tens of thousands of dollars of food in our commercial freezer.
We have produce ready for harvest on our farm, and some of our neighbours are anxious to get food for their animals, so we will work to ensure all the produce goes to the greatest need, including the local food bank.
We won’t know when our Centre may be able to re-open until we have completed a thorough assessment. We won’t re-open while there is an evacuation alert in place for Sorrento.
The detailed assessment is starting in several parts of the North and South Shuswap as the volatile fire continues to threaten many communities. Smoke remains thick in the air. Some preliminary numbers show that more than 130 homes and other buildings have been lost to the fire. The fire continues to burn to the southeast, southwest and west of Sorrento.
Our hearts go out to our neighbours and we look forward to working with them on recovery and re-building – but that won’t come until the immediate emergency of the fire is passed. 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.
- 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 strong 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. This is a great comfort to us all.
- 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…
A prayer for difficult times:
We pray for all whose day will be difficult.
May we support, may we listen, may we change.
We resolve to live life in its fullness:
We will welcome the people who’ll be part of this day.
We will greet God in ordinary and hidden moments.
We will live the life we are living.