Evacuees get first look at map showing destroyed homes
Published Thursday, May 19, 2011 6:35PM MDT
Thousands of displaced residents are seeing for the first time if their home was destroyed by flames. Officials released a map Thursday showing which homes have been burned by devastating wildfires.
The map shows 374 lots in the town are destroyed and 52 lots received some damage. In the Municipal District, 59 lots are destroyed with 32 lots damaged.
"I need to caution everybody this is the best information we can provide at this time. Although we attempt very hard to be very accurate, there is still room for us being off the mark," said incident commander, Len Maccharles.
For the Block family their worst fear was confirmed. Their home, along with all of their precious valuables inside, is gone.
"It's just the little personal items that you think, they're truly gone," said Cara Block.
But for resident Jay Pellerin it was happy news.
"I started crying. I couldn't believe it," said Pellerin, whose home is still standing."We're hoping we're going to be able to get back there as soon as possible. Maybe move back in someday."
The mayor of Slave Lake told residents it could be weeks before they could return to town to see if their home is still standing.
Since Sunday night the multiplex in Athabasca has served as the largest emergency evacuation centre for about 1,000 residents.
Local officials say they will accommodate evacuees for however long residents need space.
"We're here for the long haul. We do whatever is required, that's just part of it. We're not here to shine for one day. The test of time is endurance sometimes," said Athabasca Mayor Roger Morrill.
Donations are still needed for residents, including underwear for both adults and children, suitcases, and toiletries.
According to Sustainable Resource Development, 19 wildfires across the province are out of control with ten being held. In total, there are 72 active wildfires in Alberta.
In the Lesser Slave Lake area alone, 17 wildfires are burning out of control.
A wildfire in Slave Lake has burned approximately 4,558 hectares and a fire along south shore of Lesser Slave Lake has burned 21,282 hectares
Another fire 23 kilometres south of Loon Lake has burned about 30,000 hectares.
Province-wide, Alberta has deployed approximately 1,000 local firefighters, and another 400 have been brought in from British Columbia and Ontario.
The province has also deployed 134 helicopters, 32 air tankers and scores of heavy ground-based machines.
Several government agencies arrived on Thursday, including Employment and Immigration and Child and Family Services, to start working on the immediate needs of residents.
With files from Bill Fortier and Sean Amato