If you’re evacuated from your primary residence due to a disaster, Emergency Social Services (ESS) may be made available for up to 72 hours or longer depending on your needs. Services can include food, lodging, clothing, emotional support and information updates. View current ESS Reception Centre locations across BC.

ESS services are meant for people without access to other sources of support, such as insurance coverage or friends and family who can help. In many cases, home or tenant insurance actually provides greater support than what is available through ESS, so be sure to speak with your insurance representative to see what’s available to you.

Evacuated people must come first. ESS services are intended to help those who cannot go home because they are directly impacted by an interface fire or have been placed under Evacuation Order. Though we will do our best to help everyone, ESS services are staffed by hard-working volunteers doing their best to help people during long hours with limited resources. Those who are under an evacuation order, particularly those who have lost their homes, must be the first priority.


Before You Evacuate

If you are ordered to evacuate your home and think you’ll need ESS support, in addition to clothing, supplies and essentials be sure to remember:

  • Your home or tenant insurance policy documents (including insurance company contact information)
  • Government-issued ID
  • Medical information (including current prescriptions)
  • Pet information (including vet information and prescriptions)

Once You Arrive at a Reception Centre

Once you arrive at Reception Centre, you can expect the following:

  • You will be met by volunteers who are trained to assess your needs
  • Expect a line up to register as an evacuee – it takes time to collect information and assess your needs.
  • Volunteers will fill out paper referral forms on your behalf.
  • Being evacuated is very stressful; you may see people become emotional.
  • You will be asked the names and ages of each of the people who live with you.
  • Let the volunteers know if you have any special needs or require pet services.
  • Every effort is made to make the process as efficient and comfortable as possible for the evacuees, your patience is appreciated.
  • You will receive information on the emergency from the local authority when available and verified

Prepare yourself to experience a range of emotions while moving through this process. Review these tips and resources to help protect your physical and mental health and to help you support stressed or anxious children.

Please return home when you can. Hotels and other commercial accommodations in host communities are reaching capacity. If you are not on Evacuation Order or if you were previously evacuated and are now cleared to return home please do so immediately. This will help host communities create accommodation capacity for those who are unable to return to their homes.


Key Terminology

Referral Form

  • Is given to evacuees to provide for immediate needs such as food, clothing and lodging
  • Referral forms are taken to specified vendors including grocery stores, restaurants and lodging facilities such as hotels and exchanged for goods and services to meet your immediate needs
  • A copy of the referral form is provided for you to keep for reference
  • Often paired with a “registration form” to track services offered to you and your family

Reception Centre

A Reception Centre is a safe place that is managed by volunteers, where evacuees may receive;

  • Information about the emergency
  • Registration with ESS
  • Referrals to suppliers of food, clothing and shelter
  • Assistance finding and re-uniting with family
  • Advice on the next steps to take to begin recovery
  • Not all emergencies require a reception centre to open – during smaller events ESS is provided without one

Group Lodging

A safe place that is managed by volunteers where people can go to:

  • Sleep and eat
  • Shower
  • Get access to specialized support

Contact Us

If you’re evacuated and have no other means of support or insurance coverage, questions about accessing Emergency Social Services should be directed to your local emergency program office or the reception centre listed in the Evacuation Order. Emergency Social Services referrals cannot be completed over the phone.