Prayers Answered for Families After 2017 Forest Fires

Group photo posing for disaster services
by British Columbia
Categories: Blog, Community, Stories

In 2017, fires tore through our province, causing millions of dollars in damage and impacting thousands of lives. From Williams Lake to Kelowna and parts in between, raging fires forced people to pack-up and leave everything behind to chance. Some came home to see their houses or business still standing … hundreds came back to nothing.

Joan Scheffler was one of those who came back to nothing.

“I just stood there and thought, well, my house is gone … what am I going to do now?”

The fires burned over 1.2 million hectares of forest in the province that year. They destroyed Scheffler’s house, located about an hour outside of Williams Lake.

“I didn’t know what to think or do,” said Scheffler, a widow, who lacked sufficient insurance to rebuild. So she prayed. “I asked God what I should do.”

God answered her prayers. The Salvation Army – in partnership with the Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) Canada – provided a grant of $100,000 from the 2017 Wildfire Relief Fund to rebuild her house. Three other families in the community also had their houses rebuilt, including Sandi Chilton, who was in town running errands when the fire took everything she had.

“I couldn’t believe someone was going to re-build our house,” said Chilton. Her new home came with something extra special – wheelchair accessibility to accommodate her daughter, who requires full-time care as a result of being in a car accident in 2012.

“I’m just so grateful to those who helped,” she said. “I have a lovely house. I’m thankful for all who helped and donated.”

All four families moved into their homes in October of 2018 and it is all because of the generosity of our donors …  donors like you, who gave selflessly to help those in crisis. 

This story represents a small portion of the people who were helped because of your generosity. Over the past year-and-a-half, we have been working with all of the communities impacted to provide funds to address the needs of those who suffered loss. And for this we cannot say it enough – thank you.

For a look at the impact your donations had on the province during 2017 wildfires view the 2017 Wildfire Report.