Skip to content

B.C. STORM: 1,000 cots and bedding being flown into Hope for stranded travellers

Community preparing to care for about 1,200 people another night as crews assess highway damages
A helicopter lifts off from the Hope Golf Club on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021 with evacuees. Helicopters are being used to drop supplies and bring people out of the town, which is cut off from the province due to several landslides on all surrounding roads. (Virginia White photo)

One thousand cots and bedding are being airlifted into Hope Tuesday from the provincial government.

There are about 1,200 people sheltering in Hope, after the town was cut off from the rest of the province following a series of landslides on all routes out of the town.

While some are camping in their tents, RVs and vehicles, others are staying in local churches and Hope secondary, which has become the emergency operations centre for this disaster.

“The emergency plan is unfolding as it should,” Mayor Peter Robb told The Standard on Tuesday afternoon. “We are now preparing for everyone to stay another night.”

This is the largest emergency event Hope has ever dealt with, and both Robb and the District of Hope CAO John Fortoloczky say the event has been handled smoothly.

They’ve been working with the province to manage everything from communications to food delivery.

“Cots and blankets are starting to be delivered tonight,” Fortoloczky said. Food is being airlifted in tomorrow if needed. Tuesday night, volunteers and staff with the Hope Community Services food bank are putting on a spaghetti dinner for the sheltered people.

“Everyone has been stepping up volunteer wise,” Robb said. “When we put a call out for something, it shows up at the door of one of our reception areas.”

They have also been impressed at residents’ willingness to “step up to the plate.” Many have offered up their homes to complete strangers, giving families and individuals a place to rest.

“Families are registering (at the school) saying ‘I’ll take a family of four, put my name on a list,’” Fortoloczky said. “I have three people staying with me. This is an unprecedented event. It’s the biggest emergency event that’s happened in the Hope District.”

From the start of the rivers rising on the weekend, emergency planning was in place. Now that the worst of the natural disaster has past, they are focusing on supporting the emergency centre and the people using its services.

They are also concerned about the continued safety of residents. For example, keeping people away from potentially dangerous riverbanks.

Some people are paying private companies $100 per person to be flown out of the town.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said in an emergency briefing on Tuesday afternoon that the province is looking at an emergency detour that could connect Hope to the rest of the Fraser Valley.

Fortoloczky said that opening Highway 1 to the west of Hope would be the best for most who are stranded. Volunteers have talked to people waiting it out, and the majority were heading west when they were caught there.

Among the groups helping move goods to Hope are B.C. Wildfire, United Way and the Salvation Army.

Robb said that the school district has also been an incredible help to the district in this time.

“We can’t say enough about School District 78 stepping up to the plate,” he said. “Not just that Hope secondary had emergency power, but also their teachers and families and that volunteered.”

The school district has been closed, and many teachers and staff showed up to the secondary school to help out.

The Greater Vancouver Food Bank and Kiewit Construction will be helicoptering in food for the Agassiz and Hope Food Banks, and Food Banks BC is helping to coordinate food and supplies as well.

READ MORE: Campers make themselves comfortable, wait out highway landslides in Hope


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Jessica Peters

About the Author: Jessica Peters

I began my career in 1999, covering communities across the Fraser Valley ever since.
Read more