The water is gone now, but it’s left a deep layer of mud in the basement and has soaked the drywall, northern Alberta residents explain. CP photo

The water is gone now, but it’s left a deep layer of mud in the basement and has soaked the drywall, northern Alberta residents explain. CP photo

Soaked walls and muddy basements: Fort McMurray residents survey their flooded homes

“We were luckier than few neighbours in that it did not reach the main floor of the house.”

FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. — When Norm Sutton was allowed to return to his home in Fort McMurray, he could see that his wife’s car had been totally submerged and floodwater had completely filled his finished basement, soaking everything right up to the ceiling.

The water is gone now, but it’s left a deep layer of mud in the basement and has soaked the drywall. The family issued a plea on social media for volunteers to come on Sunday to form a chain to pass debris up the stairs to a dumpster, but they warned the work will be wet and that anyone who comes to help should bring rubber boots.

“The furniture, the library, I’ve got over a thousand books downstairs. Everything was destroyed. My wife’s sewing room, her sewing machines, the fabric collection, the beds, my record collection, the stereo, everything is totally destroyed,” Sutton said in a phone interview Saturday.

“But we were luckier than quite a few of my neighbours in that it did not reach the main floor of the house.”

The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo lifted a mandatory evacuation order for five parts of the city late Friday, citing receding water levels. An ice jam earlier this week on the Athabasca River led to the flooding of the city’s downtown, forcing close to 13,000 people out of their homes.

When Fort McMurray residents returned home following a wildfire that forced the entire city to flee in 2016, they hoped that their homes had escaped the flames and were still standing.

This time, the homes are still there, but some aren’t inhabitable beacuse of the water damage, at least in the immediate future.

One downtown supermarket that was forced to close — but escaped the flooding — was able to help lift the spirits of returning evacuees on Saturday with free food.

Dan Edwards, executive director of the Wood Buffalo Food Bank Association, said Superstore contacted the group and told them that their coolers had continued to run during the evacuation and they had a lot of produce they wanted to donate.

The food bank’s building is damaged from the flooding so they couldn’t distribute it there, but Edwards said they called in some volunteers and set up a temporary distribution point.

“It’s beautiful. It’s like produce I would buy myself. You get the odd bad apple, but that’s like when you’d go to the store anyways,” Edwards said.

“It is amazing product. It is stuff they could have sold had they been open.”

The municipality said Saturday that electricity and natural gas service has not been restored to the flood-affected areas yet, but crews were working to restore it as quickly as possible. A boil-water advisory for the city and surrounding region also remained in effect.

It said that Canadians wishing to make a donation are encouraged to contribute to the Fort McMurray & Area Floods Fund online at www.redcross.ca.

Edwards noted that despite the strain that many people are facing, the ones who stood in line for the free produce took the time to ask how he and the volunteers were doing.

“Literally every single person I talk to, they say, thank you. I’ve had people asking me what I need as I’m walking down the lineup,” Edwards said, noting a lot of the people won’t be covered by insurance.

“We’re only just beginning this phase, and it’s going to be a while before things are whole again.”

On Friday, Environment Minister Jason Nixon said a 44-kilometre-long icy mass on the Peace River could mean another 6,000 people in the region might need support from the province.

About 750 people have left their homes on the Little Red River Cree Nation, which declared a state of local emergency last Monday.

CoronavirusFort McMurray

Just Posted

The City of Red Deer sits at 249 active cases of the virus, after hitting a peak of 565 active cases on Feb. 22. (Black Press file image)
Red Deer down to 119 active COVID-19 cases

Province identifies 179 new cases Saturday

Member Terry Parsons’ custom built track vehicle.
Forestburg’s Area 53 Racetrack gears up for action-packed season

Site will also host a portion of the ‘Miles of Mayhem’ event in July

Sabrina Wilde in front of a recently purchased monster truck. Submitted.
Thorsby business women a finalist for 2021 Alberta Women’s Entrepreneurship Award

Sabrina Wilde with Lone Wolf Mechanical is a finalist for the entrepreneurial award.

Grade 12 students at Wetaskiwin Composite High School took place in the annual water fight off school property on June 11, 2021. Shaela Dansereau/ Pipestone Flyer.
Graduating students in Wetaskiwin throw water fight after being told it could result in suspension

Students were told their participation could result in them being barred from graduation ceremonies.

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen receives medical attention after collapsing during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Saturday, June 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
Christian Eriksen in stable condition, Euro 2020 match resumes

Eriksen was given chest compressions after collapsing on the field during a European Championship

As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
2 sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says the child welfare system takes Indigenous children from their families

Airport ground crew offload a plane carrying just under 300,000 doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine which is developed by the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
1st batch of Johnson & Johnson vaccines won’t be released in Canada over quality concerns

The vaccines were quarantined in April before they were distributed to provinces

The arrest south of Winnipeg occurred before Bernier was to arrive at a protest in the city. (Twitter/Maxime Bernier)
Maxime Bernier arrested following anti-rules rallies in Manitoba: RCMP

He’s been charged with exceeding public gathering limits and violating Manitoba’s requirement to self-isolate

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives for the G7 Summit, at the airport in Newquay, United Kingdom, Thursday, June 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Details on Canada’s vaccine sharing plan coming Sunday, up to 100 million doses

Canada’s high commissioner to the UK says details will come after the G7 summit

Most Read