Phone line blocked, delays for British Columbians trying to access Red Cross relief


The Canadian Red Cross says some British Columbians may have had difficulty accessing their help line due to high volume of calls.

The Red Cross and the Province of British Columbia have teamed up to offer $ 2,000 to British Columbians who were ordered to evacuate their homes November 14-16 due to flooding. This is in addition to the previously announced disaster financial assistance funding.

To access these supports, evacuated British Columbians must register with the Red Cross by calling 1-800-863-6582 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. PT.

But many, like Beth Goulet-Hillier who was evacuated from Merritt on November 15, struggled to access the hotline.

Two of Beth Goulet-Hillier’s are packed in the family vehicle. She, her family and their pets were forced to evacuate Merritt last week. (Beth Goulet-Hillier)

“I started calling two days ago,” Goulet-Hillier said. “Sometimes it didn’t even ring, and other times it would ring and go offline.”

Goulet-Hillier said she spent at least four and a half hours calling the line on Wednesday.

“It was just disheartening.”

Melanie Nielsen evacuated the Sumas Prairie with her partner, two daughters, two dogs, a cat, and pet birds.

They are staying with friends of friends in Chilliwack, but could use relief funds to buy food and supplies to start cleaning and repairing their flood-ravaged home.

It took him eight hours to reach the Red Cross by phone, to leave him the most basic information like his name and address. She says she still has no idea if or when she will get relief funds.

“So, yeah, it’s been a little frustrating,” Nielsen said.

A photo of Melanie Nielsen’s flooded basement in the Sumas Prairie. (Mélanie Nielsen)

Pat Quealey, vice president of the British Columbia and Yukon chapter of the Canadian Red Cross, said operators were inundated with calls.

“We recognize the frustration involved. We have encountered an overwhelming response,” Quealey said on CBC’s On the coast.

Quealey said part of the volume was due to British Columbians who wanted to donate money were calling the same line.

He says those who wish to help can visit the British Columbia Floods and Extreme Weather Appeal online at, call the donation line at 1-800-418-1111, or text BCFLOODS at 30333.

No deadline: Farnworth

Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety for British Columbia, asked people to be patient.

“We are very much aware of this situation and we have been in contact with the Red Cross about it. I know they are working on it. I urge people to be patient,” he said.

“People shouldn’t feel like they need to get out of this right away and if they don’t apply they won’t get the $ 2,000. There is no deadline and I can tell you that the Red Cross is working on this situation. “

Quealey said the funds will go to anyone on the evacuation lists provided by Emergency Management BC, and the generous donations from Canadians were essential in making the funds available.

“We are very grateful for everyone’s contributions. It helps us with this immediate response,” he said.


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