As evacuees pack up their suitcases and jump on buses to head home to Pelican Narrows, they’re giving thanks to those who helped them in Saskatoon.
A general evacuation order was lifted for the northern community Wednesday, allowing residents to return for the first time in two weeks after wildfires threatened the area.
Buses loaded up residents at the Travelodge hotel and Henk Ruys Soccer Centre in Saskatoon to take people home Thursday morning.
Residents were also loading up their personal vehicles for the five-hour drive, including Theola Dorion.
“I’m just going to jump out of my truck and yell out,” she said when asked what she would do first when arriving home.
Dorion said she had no complaints about the stay in Saskatoon.
“People took care of us,” she said. “I had nothing to worry about, everything was taken care of.”
Betty Custer, who was also preparing for the return, was thanking the Canadian Red Cross for their assistance.
“They gave us a place to stay and food to eat,” she said. “They helped us out a lot.”
The provincial government said Wednesday that the fire threat to Pelican Narrows and Sandy Bay had abated, leading the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation to lift its evacuation order for the area.
However, people with health issues and families with children under the age of two were being held back due to continuing wildfire smoke.
Residents of Jan Lake and Birch Portage also remained away from their homes, as flames still threatened the communities.
School in Pelican Narrows is expected to start on Sept. 18.
—With files from 650 CKOM’s Chris Carr