Slave Lake fire victims still waiting for a home

Four months after wildfires devastated Slave Lake, Alta., hundreds of residents are still waiting for a place to call home.

'It is getting colder,' says woman in camp 4 months after wildfire

Angela Blize walks her daughters to a temporary school bus stop at a campground near Slave Lake. The family has lived in a trailer since a wildfire devastated Slave Lake, Alta., in May. (CBC)

Four months after wildfires devastated Slave Lake, Alta., hundreds of residents are still waiting for a place to call home.

"You take day by day," said Angela Blize, who is staying in a campground. "Now it is getting colder, so that is harder.

"The kids can't play outside as much so, in a small space, it gets hard at times."

The fire left more than 700 families homeless on May 16 and officials estimate a third of those families are still without a home.

After the fire the Blize family hopped from hotel to hotel, but now — like two dozen others — they're living in a campground on the lake waiting to move into one of the temporary homes on the edge of town.

There, crews from across Western Canada are scrambling to set up 300 temporary homes.

"Everybody would have liked a faster solution," said John Sparks, with the Slave Lake Recovery Team.

Heavy rains delayed housing

The plan was to have families in homes by the time school started, but the project has been delayed in part because of flooding caused by heavy rainfall in July.

Workers walk between two of the 300 temporary homes being set up in Slave Lake, Alta. (CBC)

"Every day of delay we notice, a lot," said Sparks. "But if you look at the whole project that is being done, to get this done in three months, is nothing short of a miracle."

"There is nobody working on this site that doesn't know that winter is coming," he said. "There is nobody here that doesn't understand that we have to get people into interim housing ASAP."

Officials now hope to have everyone in housing by Thanksgiving.

For some, though, the stress of rebuilding in a community where so much was destroyed is overwhelming.

Sabine Souladrie was ready to move into a new home nearer the centre of town. Even before she could unpack, her sewer backed up and she had to move into a hotel.

After living in Slave Lake for 14 years, she acknowledged it may be easier to start over in a new community.

"I am not sure if I can stay here," she said. "The community has changed.

"Sure we are rebuilding, but I think most people who have lost a house aren't so convinced about staying anymore."