Campgrounds Provide Respite for Flood/Fire Victims
Floods that hit fire-ravaged Slave Lake, Alberta, have begun to recede and residents were greeted with blue skies on today (June 27), providing some relief to the embattled community, CTV.ca reported.
Six weeks ago the town was devastated by wildfires that swept into the area, destroying hundreds of buildings and forcing the sudden evacuation of the area. One third of the town of 7,000 was destroyed.
Many of those residents, currently living in campers, tents or temporary shelters, have now had to deal with widespread flooding due to last week’s heavy rain.
By Friday, the town had received 90 millimeters (3 1/2 inches) of rain within a two-day period — weather that continued into the weekend.
Highways and a number of rural roads were submerged by the flooding and creeks around the community were swollen above their banks.
CN Rail even suspended some operations in the area and there were reports that a temporary town hall and a number of homes were damaged by the high water.
Doug Horners, a Slave Lake resident who was evacuated from his home due to the fire, has been living in a trailer in a campground for six weeks.
“We’re getting by. I think we’re getting used to Mother Nature,” he told CTV’s Canada AM on Monday.
“It’s pretty wet but it’s starting to dry up now that the rain has stopped. Yesterday was a little bit nicer, and it looks like it’s blue sky this morning so hopefully it will dry up.”
Horners said the Big Fish Bay Campground where he and his wife are staying was completely submerged over the weekend, and the couple had a boat on standby in case it was needed.
By Monday the standing water had begun to recede slightly, but it was expected to be a slow process.
Horners said the rains are the latest delay to hit the town as residents struggle to rebuild their homes.
He said many contractors are hesitant to commit to projects until the details around insurance funding are sorted out. And because so much of the town’s infrastructure has been destroyed, it’s difficult to entice builders from other areas to agree to take on projects in Slave Lake.
“There’s really no place for them to stay. It’s tough right now. With everything burned there’s very little accommodation for everybody,” Horners said.
“So if they come in it’s portable camps that have to be brought in and a lot of extra work for guys that have to come in when they could probably stay home and take care of the busy building season.”