Hundreds of Fort McMurray residents in areas hit hardest by wildfire finally allowed to go home

Fort McMurray wildfire: Aerial footage of the destruction in Abasand and Beacon Hill
WATCH ABOVE: Aerial footage taken from above Fort McMurray, Alta. in May 2016 looks at the destruction in the Abasand and Beacon Hill neighbourhoods. The video was taken just days after more than 80,000 people were forced from their homes due to a raging wildfire.

It’s been a challenging few months for Fort McMurray residents who have homes in the communities hardest-hit by May’s wildfires but on Friday, many were told they could return home.

The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB) made the announcement almost exactly six months after the official evacuation order. The region said Dr. Karen Grimsrud, Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH), recommended the move.

According to the RMWB, security checkpoints in Abasand and Beacon Hill are no longer active and all green homes in the region – 169 in Abasand and 55 in Beacon Hill, can now be entered by residents. Many residents in those two communities had already been allowed to return home.

READ MORE: Fort McMurray residents to face housing shortage as large-scale rebuilding takes over town

“On behalf of the Wood Buffalo Recovery Committee and Task Force, I’d like to share our gratitude to our returning residents for their patience and resilience,” Jeanette Bancarz, chair of the Wood Buffalo Recovery Committee, said in a statement. “We are very excited to welcome the last residents of restricted areas home permanently. As a community in recovery, we look forward to the continued safe rebuilding of our neighbourhoods with a goal of building back better.”

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READ MORE: Fort McMurray wildfire: Residents can now rebuild in Abasand and Beacon Hill

Watch below: With each day that winter edges closer, Fort McMurray residents who lost their homes to the wildfire lose valuable construction time. A condition imposed on rebuilding permits was preventing them from getting started until now. Sarah Kraus explains.

Fort McMurray wildfire: Abasand, Beacon Hill residents can now begin to rebuild
Fort McMurray wildfire: Abasand, Beacon Hill residents can now begin to rebuild

“My Nov. 4 recommendations to allow the full re-entry to Abasand and Beacon Hill recognizes the diligent work the municipality has done to protect returning residents from harm,” Grimsrud said in a statement. “As the community continues to rebuild, I encourage everyone to keep health and well-being top of mind.

“Each person’s journey after a traumatic event is different and I encourage residents to access the health and community-based supports available to help you.”

“It is exciting to turn the page on demolition and focus ourselves on the task of rebuilding,” Wood Buffalo Mayor Melissa Blake said in a statement.

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To access detailed information on re-entry into Fort McMurray, residents can access resources online.