When disaster strikes

Frank Jameson Community Centre designated emergency social service reception centre

In the wake of an earthquake, or other community disaster, where do you go? What do you do?

How do you connect with your loved ones and start working to pick up the pieces?

The answer for Ladysmith residents is Frank Jameson Community Centre, and a handful of other places.

On Monday, Ladysmith council formally endorsed in principle the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s Emergency Social Services Plan which lays out how the community plans to help those affected to regroup and recover.

Emergency Social Services provides essential services to restore dignity and preserve the well-being of people affected by emergencies, ranging from house fires to catastrophic events involving mass evacuation.

Its goal is to empower people to re-establish themselves as quickly as possible after a disaster.

ESS is typically available for 72 hours immediately following the start of an emergency event. ESS Reception Centres are set up to provide emotional support; accurate and up-to-date information regarding the disaster and recovery efforts; reunification assistance for families separated by disaster; referrals for food, clothing and lodging, as required; and specialized services, as required.

“Emergency Social Services has been provided for a long time,” CVRD public safety manager Sybille Sanderson Sanderson told council.

“I’ve been involved in it since 1998. It’s a provincial requirement. At the end of the day, the province pays the bills for the service that is provided.”

Sanderson explained that this plan was developed with staff, and staff at the various facilities provided input about the challenges they have identified.

FJCC is one of four primary reception centers in the CVRD.

In the Ladysmith area, there are secondary reception centers at Bethel Tabernacle, Ladysmith Eagles Hall, North Oyster School and Saltair Centennial Park.

Secondary reception centres can also be set up at the Chemainus Seniors Drop-In Centre, the Crofton Community Centre and Forbes Hall on Thetis Island.

The plan sets out how, during a 72-hour ESS activation period, each 24-hour period will be  staffed by 24 designated ESS personnel working four- to six-hour shifts.