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Photo: World Renew
Photo by World Renew

It is becoming increasingly clear that the recovery process from the devastating fire in Fort McMurray, Alberta, will take a considerable amount of time, says Andrew Ryskamp, interim director for World Renew Disaster Response Services (DRS).

The Fort McMurray fire, which caused more than $3.5 billion in damage, forced almost 90,000 residents from their homes in May. It destroyed about 1,800 houses as well as buildings containing about 600 apartments or condo units. People have since been allowed back into the community, but it took nearly two months before a state of emergency could be lifted, says a news report.

Meanwhile, World Renew DRS is connecting with the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo in Alberta and its recovery committee as well as with the Canadian Red Cross to collaborate on recovery efforts.

“There are a lot of variables that need to be covered before reconstruction can begin in Fort McMurray,” says Ryskamp.

“These are things like toxic debris cleanup and then assessment questions regarding what to do with properties that people may not want to rebuild on. The residents and the local recovery committee are at the heart of the recovery, and we are here to support them.”

World Renew DRS will be working with the local recovery committee to explore what clean-up services might be provided to smoke-damaged homes. Discussions continue for unmet needs assessments and reconstruction, but the current need seems to be mainly financial.

“The length of time before people can return is testing people’s finances,” says Ryskamp. “World Renew DRS continues to work with the Northern Alberta Diaconate and Alberta churches in monitoring gaps in recovery services.”

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