Deb Johnston has been looking at what used to be the Royal Bank.

Deb Johnston has been looking at what used to be the Royal Bank.

After the Fire: Getting right back at it

The Royal Bank in Sooke is making it easy for customers to do business

All that was left standing was the vault, a brick wall with the RBC sign and that’s it.

The July 31 fire that destroyed a large portion of the Evergreen Centre has left its soggy mark on a number of businesses.

Debora Linehan, Regional Vive-President of South Vancouver Island for RBC Royal Bank said, “It was really devastating that first day and quite shocking, you don’t realize it would be complete devastation.”

Linehan said the vault was always in their sight lines and secure. It stood out like a monolith against the backdrop of rubble and smoking debris.

She said the night deposit slot and ATM were completely melted on the outside, but the insides were perfect.

“There was no loss of jobs, transaction, money or documents, everything is secure,” said Linehan. The safety deposit boxes were moved once they had access to the site and they were put into a vault at the Westshore branch.

“Everything was safe and secure and even clients going away on holiday could access documents, etc. in their safety deposit box. Everything in there was pristine. We knew it would be safe and even the outside combination could be spun.”

Her team on the ground took care of business by Friday and a cash machine with deposit capabilities was put into place at the Chevron gas station on Sooke Road.

By Saturday they had struck a deal with Shoppers Drug Mart to have space where customers could talk with their bankers. Financial and account managers have been relocated to Suite 301-215 Sheilds Road and all have mobile laptops to carry on business almost as usual.

It is still emotional for many, said Linehan. Many of the employees have been with the bank for 36 years and have forged long term relationships with staff and customers.

“I have to say it’s been a very surreal week,” said Finance Planner Deb Johnston.

She said was amazed at how quickly their contingency plan went into place.

“The biggest message is that we can still serve our Sooke clients in Sooke — that’s huge,” said Johnston.

She said some of the documents may be waterlogged and smokey smelling but they still have them.

“We are rebuilding and everyone will have a job,” said Linehan. “The overriding thing is the human element, you don’t expect so much emotion in your work. It’s not about the bricks and mortar. We want to thank the community, the culture here is so unique, there’s a depth to it.”

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