In British Columbia, climate disasters have an increasing impact on communities. When communities are evacuated, they often relocate to nearby locations known as “Host Communities”. When a host community is “activated”, local Emergency Support Services (ESS) step in to provide immediate basic needs for evacuees. These services are critical and essential for meeting one’s basic life-supporting needs. As we know humans have an array of needs, including social, cultural, physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional needs. Social sectors exist in communities to provide enhanced intersectional support for all demographics.
In response to the atmospheric river floods in November 2021, Emily Pletsch, Food Security and Emergency Response Coordinator with Kamloops Food Policy Council, and Kristi Rintoul, Community Impact Manager, Community Impact & Investment with United Way British Columbia developed a partnership to strategize how the social sector can effectively work alongside ESS during an activation to better support evacuees. This work led to the development of the Three-Step Social Sector Activation Guide for Host Communities; this guide serves to create a structure for the social sector in host communities to provide holistic wrap-around support for evacuees alongside ESS. Host communities can take many steps before an emergency to lay the groundwork to respond in a holistic way. Emergency response approaches can meet unique needs by establishing a foundation for this work rooted in relationality, safety, and equity.
This step by step guide can be adapted to meet localized emergency response. Distinct communities pre-plan and respond differently depending on the type of event, services available, and capacity at the time.
This work would not have been possible without the support, insight and feedback from multiple dedicated community-driven people and organizations in Kamloops and throughout the province. It is only by doing this work together that we can discover approaches to emergency response that meet the unique needs of everyone.
We are so excited to share this work with communities and look forward to continuing to evolve emergency response work throughout the province.