‘We are so far from normal’: Ft. McMurray residents still waiting to go home, rebuild after fire
Thousands of Fort McMurray residents are still out of their homes, and say they haven’t been told if or when they will be allowed to return to their homes, or start rebuilding where their homes were destroyed by wildfire – and they’re blaming the municipality for the delay.
In Abasand, where a number of homes were destroyed, most of the debris left behind has not been cleaned up – and property owners say they don’t know when the city will allow rebuilding work in their neighbourhood to start.
That isn’t just in Abasand though, in many areas damaged in the fire, much of the debris hasn’t been cleaned up. Some estimate only 10 percent of the damage has been cleared up.
Some homeowners told CTV News that if their neighbourhood is deemed safe to rebuild, they will only be allowed to start rebuilding once ash has been cleaned up everywhere in the city, work that could take months.
In addition, many homeowners said their insurance policies only guarantee to cover the cost of building a new home if it’s built within one year.
“I understand there are safety issues, I understand there are environmental issues, I understand that we need to go by those things,” resident Sandra Legacy said.
“People throughout Canada think Fort McMurray is back to normal. We are so far from normal.”
Meanwhile, in parts of the three hardest hit neighbourhoods, Abasand, Beacon Hill and Waterways, where the homes are still standing, residents have been allowed to go in and out as they please, but haven’t heard when they will be allowed to stay for good.
“We’re adults, we can take the direct answers,” Jennifer Skinner said. “We’re not children, and that’s all we are asking for.”
“Am I going to be spending Christmas with our 2-year-old in our apartment that we have rented? Or are we going to be spending it here with our family and friends?”
A spokesperson from the Municipality of Wood Buffalo told CTV News, in a statement, that residents can start rebuilding once the Chief Medical Officer of Health lifts a restriction that is currently in place.
However, there is no timeline for that.
The spokesperson also said there is no timeline for residents to return to homes that are still standing, which are under the same restriction.
With files from Breanna Karstens-Smith