PM, premier tour fire-ravaged Slave Lake
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach wrapped up an aerial tour of the fire-ravaged Slave Lake early Friday and got the chance to talk with emergency responders about how the massive wildfires spread so quickly.
The town of 7,000 remains under an evacuation order after flames ripped through Slave Lake last weekend, destroying more than 400 homes.
Stephen Harper also walked through neighbourhoods now reduced to rubble. He was amazed everyone made it out safely.
"We have to look on the bright side of this, it's a miracle that there was no loss of life," said Harper.
Money is already starting to flow for evacuated residents after the province announced an initial allocation of $50 million earlier in the week.
The province is kick-starting its disaster relief funding programs for evacuated residents by providing individual adult evacuees $1,250, and children under 18 are eligible for $500.
People in Athabasca are disappointed Harper made no plans to visit the evacuation centre.
"He could come up with money to help people. Because right here we don't need much to live on, but we still need money to live," said resident Janet Brownlie.
So far, all Harper can promise is that Slave Lake qualifies for funds under the Federal Disaster Relief Act, but he did not provide an exact figure.
"We stand ready to give any other assistance if that's necessary," said Harper.
Harper and Stelmach could not say if the assistance would end with the Federal Disaster Relief Act.
"There may extenuating circumstances, there may not. I'm not aware of any as yet," said Stelmach.
For those Albertans who cannot find and cannot afford temporary housing, a new program will help place people and cover up to 100 per cent of their housing costs until the end of August.
The province says evacuees will then be assessed individually to determine their ongoing housing needs.
Currently, there are 59 wildfires in Alberta, 14 of which are out of control.
Since the start of April, the province has recorded 470 wildfires, which have burned 264,816 hectares.
With files from Sean Amato