May 5, 2016 12:51 pm
Updated: May 5, 2016 12:55 pm

Fort McMurray wildfire: residents face difficult road to recovery, expert says

WATCH ABOVE: Dramatic video of the ongoing Fort McMurray wildfire

A A

A social scientist who has studied the aftermath of four major fires in western Canada says residents of Fort McMurray, Alta., face a difficult journey in the months and years ahead.

University of Lethbridge professor Judith Kulig says those affected by a devastating wildfire in the northern Alberta city will run the gamut of emotions from shock to elation to crippling anxiety and even post-traumatic stress disorder.

Story continues below

READ MORE: Fort McMurray wildfire grows to 85,000 hectares in size 

About 1,600 homes and other buildings have been burned to the ground in Fort McMurray, forcing tens of thousands to flee to nearby communities in what officials have called the biggest fire evacuation in the province’s history.

Kulig, whose research includes the fire that ripped through Slave Lake, Alta., in 2011, says children in that community struggled in the classroom because of anxiety that went unnoticed at home.

READ MORE: Fort McMurray fire interactive map: NASA data shows fire invading town

She also says that the traumatic events will likely exacerbate pre-existing problems such as substance abuse and domestic violence.

However, Kulig says her research shows the human spirit is resilient despite the problems residents will face in the aftermath of the fire.

Mental health support is available by calling Alberta’s 24-hour Mental Health Help Line at 1-877-303-2642.

Report an error

Comments

Want to discuss? Please read our Commenting Policy first.

Global News