The Nightmare For Fort McMurray Residents Is Far From Over

by
Sameera Ehteram
Wildfires forced more than 80,000 people to flee their homes with little more than what their cars could hold on a short notice on May 3 in northeastern Alberta.

Weeks after a fire across Fort McMurray, Canada, destroyed more than 2,400 buildings, residents there still face horrors from the uncontrolled blaze.

Though firefighters managed to save almost 90 percent of the city, the fire is heading toward industrial sites, having already devoured an oil sands camp.

The blaze, which has become known as "the beast," has grown to staggering proportions.

 

 

 

 

Read More: Fort McMurray Wildfire Leaves Apocalyptic Devastation In Its Wake

"It's really being burning intensely and the winds have been carrying it," said Wildfire information officer Travis Fairweather.

"In these kind of conditions, the fire crews will be doing their best to fight the sides of the fire when conditions allow, but that's very much weather dependent," explained Bruce Macnab of Northern Forestry Centre in Edmonton.

The Alberta government says residents can return home starting on June 1 if conditions are deemed safe, though the date may change based on conditions.

 

"Remember, many hazards remain in Fort McMurray,'' warned Alberta Premier Rachel Notley. "We need to address all of them before it is safe for residents to begin to return, and we are doing this.''

Basic emergency, medical and other services such as water, electricity and natural gas must be available and hazardous areas secured before any residents return.

The re-entry will be done in stages and will be voluntary. Citizens need to bring things they need, including medications and groceries. Residents with breathing problems, late-term pregnant women and those undergoing cancer treatments may need to delay the move.

Wood Buffalo Mayor Melissa Blake doesn't want to have to put people up in camp-like units when they return.

"We're looking for normalcy for people and existing assets will help provide that for people, I think," Blake said.

Therefore, the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo council, a specialized municipality located in northeastern Alberta, is trying to ensure the availability of rental units for residents whose homes have been destroyed.

"They need to come home, they need to be back around family, friends, neighbors," said Dale Bendfeld, the executive director of community and protective services for the municipality.

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