The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t stopped Kapuskasing from leaving its welcome matt out for those in need. This spring and summer the town will accept about 200 evacuees due to flooding of rivers or forest fires. Fire Chief Pat Kennedy says one change to the policy due to COVID-19 is food and services being brought to evacuees.

“So we have activities, bring the food on the property,” he said. “We just try to keep everyone together on the same property to separate the communities and avoid any possible transmission or contamination.”

Evacuees are also being housed in the west end of town to help limit any type of exposure. The local evacuation committee remains on alert for the next several days due to ice jams on the Albany River that could cause flooding to the communities of Fort Albany and Kashechewan First Nation.

Hosting evacuees from other communities is something Kapuskasing has become very good at over the years. In fact for the last 15 years when someone calls in need due to a forest fire or a flood Kap has been ready to step up to the plate. Fire Chief Pat Kennedy says great support from community partners has been important.

“And it’s just a big snowball that gets bigger and bigger,” he said. “We are able to provide a good service to our communities who are in need. That’s our goal to be a good neighbour and helping out those in need.”

There weren’t as many evacuees in Kapuskasing last year due to the late arrival of Spring keeping forest fires down and rivers remaining at normal levels. However, it could be a much different story this time as Kennedy says spring arrived eight weeks early causing rivers to flow and grass to become green much sooner.