Flood reception centre opens

Region staff to provide health services

The Century Arena at 1337 Clarence Avenue has been converted to a reception centre for flood evacuees.
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If you have to evacuate

Flood facts

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Winnipeg Health Region
Updated Thursday April 21, 2011

Flood evacuees from around the province can now access health services through the city’s reception centre, a spokesperson for the Winnipeg Health Region said today.

Located in the Century Arena at 1337 Clarence Avenue in Fort Garry, the city-run centre will be open between 3 and 7 p.m. daily until further notice.

Flood evacuees will be able to go to the centre to register for emergency financial assistance and temporary lodging. They will also be able to speak with a Manitoba Family Services worker, a public health nurse or a mental health-care provider from the Winnipeg Health Region as they regroup and determine what they need to do next.

"The reception centre offers a first point of contact for people who are evacuated due to rising flood waters," said Karen Cyr, Coordinator of Community Disaster Management for the Winnipeg Health Region. "Staff will be able to answer some of the big questions that may potentially cause stress for evacuees - about their finances, lodging, food, health related questions like how to access home care or receive care for chronic health conditions. They can also receive emotional support to help them cope with their individual situation and what steps they may want to take next."

So far, about 76 people have registered at the City of Winnipeg Reception Centre. A reception centre was last set up in Winnipeg in response to flooding in 2009. At that time, service was provided to over 700 individuals. Today, the reception centre is prepared to assist upwards of 20,000 people if needed. 

Addressing health needs for evacuees is one way the Winnipeg Health Region is contributing to the reception centre. Public health nurses will be available to speak with people about their current health needs. They can also advise people on their prescriptions, wheelchairs or eyeglasses - which some people may leave behind when evacuating - and work to ensure service continuity by arranging for home care and public health needs.

The Region also played a role in developing and providing psychosocial response training to emergency social services staff from the City of Winnipeg and family services staff from the Province. Mental health professionals also developed a package that allowed non-governmental agencies to provide psychosocial response training to their volunteers in a train the trainer approach.

There are very specific things to watch for and keep in mind when helping people deal with the stress of losing their homes and possessions due to rising waters. Along with providing immediate support to evacuees, psychosocial responders have been specially trained to assist people to deal with the trauma that can result from a natural disaster like a flood.

"Psychosocial responders know how and when to approach people and offer support. They understand the unique needs people have in coping with a major disaster event," said Cyr. "A quick referral can be arranged if the person needs additional professional support to help them cope."

Given the level of specialized expertise required to greet and support evacuees, the Region will have a rotation of staff taken from different areas of the city. Other non-governmental agencies such as the Red Cross, Salvation Army and St. John Ambulance will be using volunteers to deliver services and support.

A telephone number has been established for the reception centre. People out of Winnipeg can call toll-free: 877-655-0502. Within Winnipeg, call: 945-5324.

If you have to evacuate

Health experts suggest you remember the following if you need to evacuate:

  1. Tell your rural municipality you are evacuating. It helps ensure continuity and alleviates confusion about your whereabouts and safety.
  2. Remember to pack things you will need to take care of yourself and your health. This may include prescription medication, eyeglasses, dental appliances, orthotics, wheelchairs, walkers and canes.  "It’s important to bring your medications and medical equipment - important appliances - and instructions needed to help care for you and your health," reminds Cyr. Click here for things to consider with respect to your health.
  3. Register with the Reception Centre. Even if you don’t anticipate needing financial assistance or lodging, should that situation change it could make it easier to access support you are eligible for. Registering also helps clarify where you are if people are trying to determine if you’ve evacuated. "If you’ve been evacuated, you are encouraged to register even if you’re not sure you’ll need help," says Cyr.
  4. Access support to offset costs. If you are able to stay with friends and family, you may be eligible for a daily allowance to offset grocery costs. If you are staying in a hotel, you may be able access a daily allowance from Family Services for restaurant meals. Standard evacuation rates apply; attend the Reception Centre to determine if you can receive this assistance.

Flood facts

* The City of Winnipeg is responsible for establishing standards for the flood reception centre. It works in conjunction with the provincial emergency social services program to ensure people are able to access and receive the basics: lodging, food, clothing and health care.

* It is anticipated the Reception Centre will be open from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on weekends. If the need fluctuates and dramatically diminishes, the hours may be adjusted.

* The City of Winnipeg will be establishing an information line to address questions with respect to the reception centre. For more information, call 311 or visit the City of Winnipeg’s EmergWeb.

* The Canadian Red Cross will be establishing a 1-800 number for people to call and inquire about people who have evacuated. This will help to reunify families. For more information, visit the Red Cross website.

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