While Lytton, B.C., struggles to recover from a devastating fire that destroyed most of the small, remote village in June 2021, Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) stands ready to help.
Lytton has faced an array of challenges to rebuilding its town, including lack of local workers and government red tape. Two years after the disaster, Lytton remains uninhabited, waiting for homes and other structures to be rebuilt. When that happens, MDS is poised to be one of the first groups on the scene, though it may not happen until next spring.
John Longhurst of MDS told the Fraser Valley Current that the organization’s plan for Lytton is to “do one house and to see how it goes.” First, it needs approvals to proceed.
According to Gerald Dyck, chair of the MDS B.C. unit, now that soil remediation and an archaeological dig have been completed, MDS can proceed with building permits. Five members of the MDS committee were in Lytton on September 10 for an appreciation barbecue sponsored by the town. Potential clients for a home rebuild were in attendance.
“We made some wonderful connections there,” said Dyck. “Our goal is to do what we do: help uninsured and underinsured folks get back into their homes.” He estimated the best-case scenario would be to begin work next March, adding, “This is one of the longest delays MDS has ever had in responding to a disaster.”
MDS workers have volunteered in B.C. communities in recent years, including in Princeton and the Fraser Valley following the 2021 floods, and in Monte Lake following the wildfire there.