Mental health of Fort McMurray evacuees top of mind for some residents | Forest fires in Canada

Many Fort McMurray residents are relieved to come home, but this return could still prove difficult for some. Some evacuees believe they will especially need help with their mental health because of scars from 2016.

In the rain, more than 6,000 evacuees were able to return home on Saturday after the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo lifted the evacuation order and canceled the state of local emergency due to the MWF-017 fire, which threatened the city.

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The more than 6,000 evacuees were able to return home on Saturday.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Jordan Mesiatowsky

However, some residents like Maryse Champagne, although she is relieved that the order has been lifted, think that there is still a lot of anxiety or post-traumatic things that have come up.

Living in the tar sands city since 2013, she remembers 2016 with only one emotion: anxiety.

We had to cross the city through the flames. […] It was quite scaryshe said, adding that the fear of dying and even the unpredictability of the future were worrying.

It’s like a feeling of deja vu!

A quote from Maryse Champagne, resident of Fort McMurray

Maryse Champagne believes that a return home is still good news for the community. However, she believes that people would need psychological support, because people are going to need to be listened to.

Support needed for those who return

Dan Edwardsgeneral director of the food bank Wood Buffalo, was preparing food baskets for Tuesday. With the order now lifted, he is adjusting his plans.

Things are changing quickly, but this is good news for everyone who has been evacuated, because evacuation is also a terrible timehe said.

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Dan Edwards, executive director of the Wood Buffalo Food Bank, expects demand for food baskets to increase.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Jordan Mesiatowsky

According to him, the impact of the evacuation will be felt more by those who did not have a regular income. When you’re paid hourly, you don’t get paid for the hours you don’t work, so that impacts everything. […] Panic leads to paniche said.

In addition to food baskets, the food bank prepares emergency baskets that contain air purifiers and water bottles.

The Canadian Mental Health Association recommends Fort McMurray evacuees who need mental health support contact 21 or organizations Counseling Alberta And Recovery College.

With information from Yasmine Mehdi

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