Since the spring, volunteers from across Canada have traveled to Monte Lake, BC to help some of the families who lost their homes in last year’s devastating White Rock Lake wildfire.
Efforts are coordinated by the Mennonite Disaster Service.
The charity is building four homes for fire victims in the North Okanagan, three in Monte Lake and one near Vernon in less than six months.
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The volunteer builders are making new homes possible for people who thought they couldn’t rebuild.
For Monte Lake resident Dustan Eager, it’s a bit surreal to see a new home for his family under construction.
After losing their home last summer with only partial insurance coverage, it didn’t look like they’d be able to rebuild it.
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Eager said the family of five probably wouldn’t have been able to stay in Monte Lake without the Mennonite Disaster Service.
“We probably would have ended up selling and having to move somewhere we could afford because right now with the cost of everything, we couldn’t have done it any other way,” Eager said.
Volunteer project coordinator John Sawatzky said the charity, which regularly builds homes for people affected by natural disasters in the US and Canada, came at the request of the local community.
Residents in need of help applied for help with the reconstruction.
“We’re looking for a real need… and that they’re not able to recover on their own. We typically work for people who are underinsured or uninsured, so they don’t have a way of raising the finances to rebuild a home,” Sawatzky said.
Property owners contribute what they can, and skilled workers are hired to handle the more technical tasks, but the basic construction and finishing is done by hundreds of volunteers who come from other parts of Canada and sometimes the US to help .
“It’s just fun to work and help here. To see hope returning to people’s lives is more than enough reward for me. I’m just looking forward to the day when I can watch them move into their new homes,” said Sawatzky.
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Eager’s family is looking forward to it too.
The father of three says even watching the rebuilding gives his kids stability.
“They are very excited. At the end of the day, when crews are done, they want to sneak up and take a look. They already knew which bedrooms were theirs on the ground floor and were already making plans,” Eager said.
The construction work should be completed by the end of October.
It would mean a lot for Eager’s family to be home this winter after more than a year of temporary living.
“[It would be the] Best Christmas ever,” Eager said, wiping away a tear.
“It would just be absolutely amazing.”
The project is looking for more volunteers. Visit the Mennonite Disaster Service website for more details.
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https://globalnews.ca/news/9052144/volunteers-help-some-white-rock-lake-fire-victims-rebuild/ Volunteers are helping some fire victims in White Rock Lake to rebuild