The tears came quickly for Norma Sure when her daughter and nephew made it to Prince George Saturday night.
“When they arrived… I couldn’t stop crying,” she said.
For the longtime Cariboo resident, today is evacuation day nine.
With her nephew’s dog Nylah at her feet, Sure waited patiently in a chair off to the side of the emergency reception centre Sunday morning, watching hundreds rush from their cars to get in line and register with Emergency Social Services.
Her daughter and her boyfriend, as well as her nephew and his girlfriend were inside getting registered themselves. They’re a few of the nearly 37,000 people who have been displaced due to the wildfires raging across the province.
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It’s hard to find positives when natural disasters strike, but Sure has seemed to find a silver lining.
Saturday’s evacuation meant family was joining her in Prince George, she explained.
At least they’d be together.
Sure was evacuated more than a week ago from her 150 Mile home and only given a few short hours to pack.
Although she had to leave behind most of her belongings – including her rooster – Sure managed to bring three of her horses to Prince George. They’re now being cared for by volunteers at the Prince George Exhibition Grounds.
Sure moved her dozen-or-so chickens to her parents house nearby, but during their own evacuation to Kamloops they couldn’t manage to catch a single one, and had to leave them behind.
Sure’s niece – who was sent during an evauation order to Kamloops – had managed to get a permit Thursday to check on the ranch. The rooster was still where it was left, near plenty of water and food.
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Feeling homesick, Sure’s had more than a week to internalize the situation she’s been dealt.
“There are moments where I just wants to be in the comfortability of my home,” she said.
But she’s also happy to be safe, and surrounded by family she can now ensure are also OK.
“Everyone’s out alive, and that’s all that matters.”
Sure’s preparing for the long haul. She’s re-registering for funds through the Emergency Social Services and suspects it could be some time before she’s allowed back into the town she calls home.
As for returning home, it’s a waiting game highly dependent on weather, as fire crews try to contain each blaze.
The five family members are staying together at the Coast Inn of the North Hotel, where evacuees have been given discounts. The rest of the bill being paid for through their ESS stipend.
Each day, they’ll wait together for updates on their homes and when they can return to their communities.
“Crazy has become the new normal.”