FORT MCMURRAY, Alta.—When Norm Sutton was allowed to return to his home in Fort McMurray, he could see that his wifes car had been totally submerged and floodwater had completely filled his finished basement, soaking everything right up to the ceiling.
The water is gone now, but its left a deep layer of mud in the basement and has soaked the drywall. The family issued a plea on social media for volunteers to come on Sunday to form a chain to pass debris up the stairs to a dumpster, but they warned the work will be wet and that anyone who comes to help should bring rubber boots.
“The furniture, the library, Ive got over a thousand books downstairs. Everything was destroyed. My wifes sewing room, her sewing machines, the fabric collection, the beds, my record collection, the stereo, everything is totally destroyed,” Sutton said in a phone interview Saturday.
“But we were luckier than quite a few of my neighbors in that it did not reach the main floor of the house.”
The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo lifted a mandatory evacuation order for five parts of the city late Friday, citing receding water levels. An ice jam earlier this week on the Athabasca River led to the flooding of the citys downtown, forcing close to 13,000 people out of their homes.
When Fort McMurray residents returned home following a wildfire that forced the entire city to flee in 2016, they hoped that their homes had escaped the flames and were still standing.
This time, the homes are still there, but some arent inhabitable because of the water damage, at least in the immediate future.
One downtown supermarket that was forced to close—but escaped the flooding—was able to help lift the spirits of returning evacuees on Saturday with free food.
Dan Edwards, executive director of the Wood Buffalo Food Bank Association, said Superstore contacted the group and told them that their coolers had continued to run during the evacuation and they had a lot of produce they wanted to donate.
The food banks building is damaged from the flooding so they couldnt distribute it there, but Edwards said they called in some volunteers and set up a temporary distribution point.
“Its beautiful. Its like produce I would buy myself. You get the odd bad apple, but thats like when youd go to the store anyways,” Edwards said.
“It is amazing product. It is stuff they could have sold had they been open.”
The municipality said Saturday that electricity and natural gas service has not been restored to the flood-affected areas yet, but crews were working to restore it as quickly as possible. A boil-water advisory for the city and surrounding region also remained in effect.