Slowly, I'm transitioning into the next phase of my little unexpected summer adventure and starting to focus on my return to Fort McMurray early next month. I have to admit that, thinking about all that this entails, it has been a daunting task at times.
I don't have an exact return date nailed down yet though that will be the easy part. After that comes a full inspection of my home, photos of any damage, determining what is safe from smoke damage and salvageable and what is not, washing or disposing of clothing, towels, curtains, cleaning my outside windows and siding, washing all my dishes (which with a boil water advisory could be fun), washing the floors and walls, checking out the attic, cleaning up the lovely pot of boiled potatoes that I know has been patiently awaiting my return over the course of the past 25 days...along with the meat in the pot beside it. To top it all off, I suspect I may have a few bear issues in my neighbourhood as well.
I do expect some smoke and will just have to wait to find out about its extent. I was silently thanking myself for closing all the windows before I left though I know that will probably not mean a completely smoke-free home. Aside from the food in the kitchen that was left out, I suspect the refrigerator and freezer will be, in a word, nasty. I've heard that while there were outages, parts of Thickwood kept power for long portions of time so while I'm hopeful my fridge may be salvageable I'm prepared for the reality that it may not be. Depending on how much rain we've had, which I don't think has been that much, I also expect my lawn to be a small forest. I also have some brush left over from when I had my ash trees pruned back in the fall pile up between the backyard shed and the fence which, in light of events, I am anxious to get tidied up as soon as possible. Throw in trying to get in touch with two more tenants whom I haven't heard from since the evacuation and fitting all this cleaning and tidying around my work schedule when I start back and things start to get interesting really fast. Daunting tasks ahead, but not impossible.
Fortunately, the city has been preparing and I have a wealth of resources to assist. A few areas around town have been set up for returnees to access cleaning supplies and water and other resources they may need. As luck would have it, there will be one set up at the high school a block from my house. I also know that there are many other people in the same boat as me and that I am one of the lucky ones who at least has a functioning house to return to.