Uncertainty in returning home grips evacuees of Yellowknife

The Northwest Territories is home to 1500 Filipinos, most of whom are in Yellowknife

By Charmaine Y. Rodriguez

As Yellowknife’s population of 19,000 have been evacuated as of Friday, August 18, crews were still working on the out-of-control wildfires that are threatening to reach the city as of yesterday.

The wildfire triggered the evacuation of the city and the neighbouring Yellowknives Dene communities of Ndilǫ and Dettah and residences along the Ingraham Trail.

The Northwest Territories (N.W.T.) communities of Fort Smith, Enterprise, Hay River, Kátł’odeeche First Nation, Kakisa and Jean Marie River are also under evacuation orders due to wildfires.

“It’s not only the fire but the heavy smoke that will be approaching,” Yellowknife Mayor Rebecca Alta told ABS CBN News in an interview.

Leah Leclerc, the President of the PH Cultural Association of Yellowknife, confirmed that the Filipinos in Yellowknife were among those who heeded the evacuation order.

“The reaction from the Filipinos are pretty much the same as the rest of the city- they were all very panicked or quite concerned and I think the biggest thing that we wanted to do was get out of the city,” she also told ABS CBN News.

The last 39 hospital patients in Yellowknife’s hospital were flown out Friday night on a Canadian Forces plane and transported to British Columbia, David Maguire with the N.W.T. Health and Social Services Authority said in an email to Yahoo News.

Officials have not yet set date for anyone to return. They noted that this is frustrating and could prompt some to post misinformation online.

“I want to know when we’re going home,” Premier Caroline Cochrane told the news conference Saturday. “We have to make sure it is safe to go home.”

Queeny Ann Flores, one of the evacuees, said she is monitoring the government’s social media channels for updates.

“We don’t know when we’re going to go back to Yellowknife. It was hard to decide what to bring and what not to bring,” Flores told CBC News in an interview when asked about her experience.

Flores and her two sons are staying with their relatives in Calgary in the meantime.

She said they decided to evacuate even before the order was announced to make sure they would not encounter problems if they leave together with most of the residents of the city.

Canada is having its worst wildfire season on record, with nearly 1,100 active fires burning across the country as of Wednesday.

Experts have pointed to a warmer and drier spring than normal as the reason.

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