NEWS

La Ronge mandatory evacuation now lifted

07/17/2015 01:04 EDT | Updated 07/17/2016 05:59 EDT
The mayor of La Ronge says people in the area will be able to head home today.

La Ronge Mayor Thomas Sierzycki said local leaders have decided to lift the mandatory evacuation order for the Lac La Ronge Indian Band, as well as the communities of La Ronge and Air Ronge.

The evacuation order has also been lifted for Wadin Bay and English Bay.

"It's an exciting day," said Sierzycki. "Not only for leadership, but for all the agencies that have been working hard around the clock."

People will be allowed to return through a phased  in approach. Anyone with their own vehicles will be allowed to drive back starting at 1 p.m. CST. People needing gas vouchers will be able to return by this afternoon. Then people in evacuation centres will be bused to La Ronge, and then distributed to their home communities.

Sierzycki said the town of La Ronge is in good shape, but the surrounding forest is badly burned.

"Fire has burned numerous cabins in the region," he said. "Trees are black, there is devastation, and it's going to take some time to really get over that."

Returnees are asked to bring basic supplies with them when they head home, as local stores are still bringing back staff and goods.

Electricity and water has been turned on. Natural gas may still take some time, however, as crews are busy restoring service.

A basic emergency room will be set up at the La Ronge Health Centre, but it will likely be a few days before all staff return.

Air quality continues to be low, and people with lung conditions, the elderly and people with young children are asked to remain out of the community for now.

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