Woman evacuated for 2nd time in Fort McMurray

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A woman from Englee has been evacuated for a second time, to flee the wildfire still spreading in Fort McMurray. Joanne Randell was working the night shift and was at home asleep, when she awoke at 3 p.m. Monday to find herself under another evacuation order in the northern Alberta community.

“I look out my window and everything is orange and smoke and it’s total darkness. It was supposed to be sunlight  for daytime and there was nothing, it was like nighttime, there was nothing but ashes going,

“People [were] running back and forth … grabbing their bags and someone screaming, ‘You gotta evacuate.'”

When she spoke with  early Tuesday morning, Randell said it was still unclear what was going to happen

“It’s pretty hectic, there’s a lot of panic going on. For the second time around, being evacuated it’s traumatizing, to have to deal with this for the last two and a half weeks,” said Randell.

Randell had returned to work last week, after an evacuation order in her area was lifted. While she said she felt safe going back to work, she didn’t expect to be evacuated a second time.

“They said the fire was moving away from town so I felt pretty calm, it didn’t bother me coming back to work. I came back, [did] my job and I did not expect this when I woke up today,” she said.

“I feel pretty safe right now, but tomorrow … myself and a lot of other people, we just want to leave. For this to happen out of nowhere … we just don’t feel safe at all.”

While Randell wants to return to Newfoundland until things settle down a bit in Fort McMurray, she’s not sure if she will be able to fly out any time soon.

“I think the next thing that’s gonna happen is they are gonna try to get us out of here. I don’t know for sure but apparently there is a camp that [is burning] 1.5 kilometres away from the camp I was staying in. I got out just in time.”

Meanwhile, Randell said it’s upsetting to be back in the same situation she was already in: forced to evacuate and leave everything behind.

“Very traumatized right now. It’s the second time around, so it makes you not want to come back. It gets you very discouraged and you don’t know — you’re homeless, feeling like you have nothing,” she said.

“The first time I left I had nothing, I just left. I didn’t even have a toothbrush, I had no clothes, I didn’t have anything, I had to buy everything new again. Now I’m back here in the same situation again.”

She sits with fellow evacuees at a lodge north of Fort McMurray, trying to make jokes and laugh with others, but said it’s still a difficult situation.

“As soon as you get alone, that’s when all the panic is setting in more and you don’t know what to do with yourself. You’re just pacing the floor and crying. It’s very stressful.”

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