As many as 23,000 people have gone back to their homes in fire-ravaged Fort McMurray, but there are many who won’t return.
Even some born and raised in the city say it’s far too painful to go back ever again.
It still doesn’t feel real for some families staying in Calgary, who witnessed the wildfire swallow up their neighborhoods.
For Shianne Wigmore’s family, the reality still seems hard to believe but they’re uncomfortably reminded of the trauma every day.
“My oldest was the worst,” Wigmore said. “She was at school when we got evacuated. They were sent north, we were south. We were separated and it’s the only time she was away from her family. It’s tough on her,” Wigmore said. “The kids had memories of the room and the toys – they don’t understand that there is no going back.”
There will be no homecoming for Wigmore’s family. She, along with her two daughters and newborn son, are never going back.
“We noticed the kids were having nightmares. I don’t want our kids to be reminded of that day,” Nathan Laviolette, Wigmore’s husband, said.
Fort McMurray was their home for their entire lives and now they’re starting over in Calgary with nothing.
“I had my mom who lived down the road and helped out. Now it’s heartbreaking. She’s so far away,” Wigmore said.
“I try and keep a steady foundation for them,” Laviolette said. “I am going to keep you guys going and do anything to make you happy.”
Other Fort McMurray evacuees won’t return right now, but will when the time is right for them.
“I’m anxious to go home like everybody else, but I want to make sure it’s safe,” Ocean Doubleday, a Fort McMurray resident staying in Calgary, said.
Despite the fact that her home escaped the flames, she doesn’t want to rush back with a boil water advisory in place.
But Doubleday misses home terribly and can’t wait to reunite with everything and everyone that feels familiar.
“I never for a second considered not going back,” Doubleday said.
Officials in Fort McMurray announced a plan for residents in the three areas deemed uninhabitable due to toxins to visit their neighbourhoods.
Supervised visits to their homes will be allowed starting June 8.