Wildfire Update (23 08 31)

A message from Executive Director Michael Shapcott, Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023

Rain came to Sorrento on Thursday morning, bringing joy and relief as the Bush Creek East wildfire continues to burn out-of-control very close to the main campus of the Sorrento Centre and our farm. “Hotspots” along Frederickson Road (just south of us) were doused on Friday morning and there is heavy, thick smoke blanketing the area, especially around the farm.

There was no major flare-up of the wildfire on Wednesday night, as there was on Tuesday night. However, the wildfire that started around Adams Lake and roared through the North Shuswap before passing over to the South Shuswap and Sorrento remains volatile.

The Thursday morning update from BC Wildfire: “Temperatures will remain cool today and scattered showers will continue into this evening with a risk of thunderstorms to follow. The forecasted winds will be light and widespread smoke is expected to persist. Fire activity will be calmer today, however due to the current drought conditions once the weather rebounds into a warming and drying trend fire behaviour will likely increase as a result.”

BC Wildfire crews on the ground and in the air, as well as local firefighters and volunteers, have been tackling the dynamic fire in the Sorrento area.

Yesterday afternoon, some of our neighbours along Elson Road and other nearby locations were ordered to leave as the wildfire risk grew. Our Centre and farm remain under evacuation alert, which means we are ready to leave at a moment’s notice. Our Centre is closed and we will not re-open until it is safe to do so. All our staff are safe for now.

It has been 13 days since we safely evacuated about 200 guests at a music camp from our Centre on Aug. 18. Our staff also evacuated. We were allowed to return on Aug. 26. Some staff are continuing with a full assessment of our lands and buildings, while others are attending to necessary tasks.

The lost revenue from the cancellation of two weeks of our biggest annual event amounts to hundreds of thousands of dollars. We have also lost tens of thousands of dollars in food during a power failure in the early days of the wildfire. We are continuing with the financial reckoning, and our senior management team (Executive Director, Associate Director) are working to ensure financial stability as the uncertainty of the wildfire continues.

We delivered a large load of fresh produce from our farm (including potatoes and beets) to the local food bank. We gratefully received a basket of fresh, local peaches for our hard-working staff (there was a large delivery of peaches). Many acts of kindness in the face of a terrible disaster.

We don’t know when we will be able to re-open and, with the wildfire still close to our doorstep, we don’t know when we will know. We will continue to post daily updates. Even though we are in a time of great uncertainty, fear and peril, and many of our neighbours have seen their homes destroyed by wildfire, we remain grateful.

Please continue to monitor our website and social media for daily updates.

You can make an on-line donation (one time or recurring) or you can send a cheque to the Sorrento Centre, 1159 Passchendaele Road, Box 99, Sorrento, BC, V0E 2W0.

Here are some words of gratitude adapted from our Episcopal siblings in the United States:

Let us give thanks to God for all God’s gifts so freely bestowed upon us. For the beauty and wonder of earth and sky and sea, For all that is gracious in the lives of men and women, revealing the image of Christ, For our daily food and drink, our homes and families, and our friends, For minds to think, and hearts to love, and hands to serve, For health and strength to work, and leisure to rest and play, For the brave and courageous, who are patient in suffering and faithful in adversity, For all valiant seekers after truth, liberty, and justice, For the communion of saints, in all times and places. Amen.

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