A Port Alberni family has received some support from the community after losing their home in a fire last month.
On Tuesday, Aug. 4, Khalsa Aid Canada provided Annette and James Nookemus and their two children, ages 10 and 13, with laptops and other electronics from Best Buy, as well as gift cards from Tyler’s No Frills and Woodgrove Centre in Nanaimo. The local Dairy Queen and Subway restaurants will also be providing the family with some meals while they are without a kitchen.
Fire crews from Port Alberni, Beaver Creek and Sproat Lake responded to a fire on July 25, 2020 at a multi-family townhouse complex on Gertrude Street. The two-storey unit belonging to the Nookemus family was destroyed. No one was injured in the fire, the cause is of which is still unknown.
Since losing their home, the Nookemus family has been staying at the Redford Motel. They will be able to stay at the motel for two weeks, thanks to some funding from Huu-ay-aht First Nations, but aren’t sure where they will be going after those two weeks run out.
Annette said there was “nothing to be saved” on the upstairs floor of their unit. Most of the downstairs floor was also damaged by smoke and water.
“We were there for 10 years,” said Annette. “That was our home for 10 years. To see everything gone…it’s not fair.”
When Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns heard about the fire, he approached the Nookemus family to see how he could help. By chance, he ran into Kim Rai, Port Alberni director of Khalsa Aid Canada, in the Redford Motel parking lot. Khalsa Aid is a non-profit organization that aims to provide humanitarian aid around the world.
“I told [Rai] what had happened, and he wanted to help,” said Johns.
Annette was especially grateful for the assistance. She is currently attending Discovery Community College’s Health Care Assistant program, and without a computer, she has been keeping up with her online courses using only her phone.
Captain Michael Ramsay of the Salvation Army was also present on Tuesday to complement Khalsa Aid’s donation.
“We have some household goods, clothing, other things from our store that could help them in the interim and after they find a new place,” explained Ramsay.
The Salvation Army, with help from other local organizations, has also been providing daily warm meals to members of the community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With COVID-19, it’s really hard right now,” said Johns on Tuesday. “More than ever, we need the community to come together. We’re all stepping out of our traditional roles. This is a sad story, but it’s also a heartwarming story to see people come together.”
A fundraiser for the Nookemus family has raised more than $1,500. The GoFundMe campaign can be found online at www.gofundme.com/f/fundraising-for-james-amp-annette-nookemus-amp-family.