Saturday, March 24, 2012

Slave Lake

So I have noticed that I just keep a catalog of things that I want/need to blog about, and when I have time to do it, I will post about several things a short time period. It is kind of weird, but I would rather do it this way then not remember these events.

So here is my post about FINALLY going back to my home town, Slave Lake, after the devastating forest fires that took 40 percent of the town last May.

So quick background. I was born and raised in Slave Lake. It is a small industry rich town 2.5 hours north of Edmonton. It is situated on a beautiful soft sand beach lake(Slave Lake) and was nestled in the thick Alberta forest.

I am not going to act too nostalgic and act super attached to Slave Lake now that it is essentially gone. I actually hated living there and could not wait to leave. When I was considering my post secondary schooling and counseling with my parents regarding what I wanted to do my Dad cautioned me that studying Nuclear Medicine would limit me to city dwelling. At that I was sold! Never live in a dumpy small town again! DONE!*(note:now that I have left and matured a bit(I hope) I have realized that I just like a little anonymity and that my feelings are more toward small towns in general, and that SL is probably not too different than all other small towns).

All of that being said,  my parents and 4 of my siblings live in Slave Lake, and the home I grew up in was in Slave Lake. I have an Aunt that lives there, cousins and their families and some friends. Whether I like it or not, Slave Lake is"home" and it is still a very important place for many people that I love.

I think the latest update I heard about the fires, was that over 600 dwellings were burned(including several apartment buildings) about 340ish houses, and 9 or so businesses, not to mention other dwellings such as churches and other buildings. About 40 percent of the town is completely gone!

The last time I was in Slave Lake was when I was recovering from the birth of Piper. I was sad and sick and I think that maybe that is why it took me so long to go up there. Regardless, I just visited"home" and it was weird. Places that played a huge part of my growing up(Tags, the church and obviously my parents house) were all gone! Along with so much more. It is almost hard to figure out where you are because all of the landmarks are gone. Sadly, also in preparation of this summers fire season the town has decided to tear down almost all of the trees in town, leaving it looking like an ugly mess.

I feel so bad for what all of these people have gone through. I just remember my sister's poor kids worrying about their pets, and finding out which of their friends were moving away and everyone speculating and wondering if their homes were still standing. How terrifying!My Mom would sometimes call me when she was living in Edmonton and tell me she could smell smoke(when clearly there was no fire around).I think it is equally hard for those who did not lose homes, as they are left feeling guilty, watching people they love suffer, move, and it is truly taking efforts from all to rebuild.

Here are a few pics of the devastation:

Here are a few pics of what the town looks like now:

 my parents and(on the left) and the Loves(the right-blue house)-from behind
 the Loves from the east side
 3rd Ave SE. The Loves and Leishmans front

 Mom and Dad's House
 between the RCMP and LDS church-after a lot of the trees have been cleared.
 the entrance to the church
 for Eve(and the Paynes)-this is where your old white house was-on the left hand side.
 the clinic, no apartments next to it!
 cutting down all of the trees in the walking trails:(

 Tags, and Parkdale
 No Bird Church
 At the Tags STOP sign
 another pic of the chopped trees in town, making the town look way worse:(
 Behind this pile is the High School

These pictures are terrible, taken from my iPhone, but I thought some of the people who have not been able to make it back to Slave Lake might enjoy seeing them. The town really is unrecognizable.

My parents are moving into their house in the next week or so, and other people already have been living in their new homes for over a month. People are working hard to rebuild their lives and I can only imagine how devastating this year has been for them. Good Luck to all involved! You really are inspirational. You have been in my prayers and I am so sorry that you had to go through this nightmare!


  1. thanks for posting those pictures from your iphone! it is all so strange...

  2. I agree, it feels eery (i have no idea how to spell that word). Thanks for the pictures, i've never been able to make out the pictures that I've seen online, so your descriptions were very helpful.

  3. Totally eerie hey? It feels so weird to go back. I totally cried on the way there. I can't even imagine how awful it must have been to be there and be so scared!!

  4. The photos of the destruction are very disturbing, and a little too close to home. Like unto the destruction of our family. Too bad hearts can't be rebuilt as quickly and with as much efficacy as houses. I will never return to SL again.

  5. I ditto betina. seriously the pictures of the fire totally represent our family. So sad.So tragic. SO much lost.