Jason Brinson, the executive director of the Salvation Army in the NWT, said that they have 80 to 90 bins of clothing ready to go in case of another disaster.
Brinson said that the Department of Health and Social Services requested that they respond to the next disaster as they had one year ago. Tha support inclided providing and distributing clothing at the Fieldhouse to meet the immediate needs of Hay River and K’atl’odeeche First Nation (KFN) residents after they had been evacuated from the massive flood.
At that time, the organization was asked asked to provide food support, so he reached out to the divisional emergency disaster service representative and they sent a team which provided all meals for the evacuees for a number of days.
Brinson had an idea about why he thinks the government asked them to specifically prepare clothing.
“We have access to clothing on a widespread basis because of donations that come in and the Salvation Army Thrift Store,” he said. “We were probably the most able to provide that service for people who had to get out of their homes with very few articles of clothing.”
He said that their goal is to get each person three of four sets of clothing total so they don’t have to do laundry every day.
Months before Hay River and KFN residents were evacuating because of the forest fire this year, Brinson said they asked the thrift store to put aside clothing for potential evacuees in anticipation of the season where the NWT is most vulnerable to fires and floods.
He said that since the current disaster has wrapped up, they have created a stockpile of bins containing clothing which can be distributed in a moment’s notice in response to another disaster.
He added that unlike what they’ve done in the past, all of the clothing is completely organized, boxes are labelled, and the contents need only to be taken out of the boxes and placed onto a table for evacuees to access them.
Brinson is also planning on creating a process so that all of the older clothing within the bins are cycled out and replaced with fresher clothing and that if a disaster was to strike, they could be ready to distribute the clothing in one hour of being notified.
He also said that their focus was on meeting the immediate needs as opposed to long-term recovery.
“Recovery efforts are a whole different ball game,” he said.
He thanked the people who donated in response to the evacuations this year.
“We are very grateful to the community that steps up to help support others who are in need,” he said.