Lytton, B.C. struggles to rebuild after wildfire disaster

Written by Tasha Tsiaperas, CNN

Having lost almost all of their land in the devastating British Columbia wildfires last year, the community of Lytton must now begin a slow and difficult process of rebuilding.

Well over 50 homes were lost and another 145 damaged, leaving a part of the community that was a mecca for people looking to escape the country rain in the outlying Cariboo region, to literally do it the hard way.

The government-approved rebuild project will include apartments for low income families, parks and parks amenities, or sports fields, to restore a sense of community. The initial cost of the project is estimated at $22 million, to be met by funds from the provincial and federal governments.

Lytton, B.C.

Construction and disaster recovery are only two part of a long and intricate process, however. Citing the need to help each individual family navigate the recovery process, Lytton councilman Jim Henderson, hopes the town will also adopt a “build back better” ethos.

“The hope is that it’s going to be better,” Henderson told CNN. “The homes will be better constructed, if that’s possible. I would like it to be a rallying point for the community to step up and help each other.”

To be formally launched at a town hall meeting on October 22, by the Ministry of Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development and the First Nations Association of British Columbia, the rebuilding phase includes multiple steps including an agreement with insurance companies and the Canadian Red Cross, according to the town’s website.

The town also plans to provide better housing for its social workers, nurse nurses and teachers, who are currently housed in temporary facilities in Prince George and Whitehorse. The goal is to build six houses for permanent housing, two for rental properties and one for small businesses.

However Henderson recognizes that the rebuilding process will take years to complete, and won’t happen overnight. It’s possible that, over time, Lytton may end up back where it was in September 2016, as rebuilding is dependent on funds from insurance and donations.

“We need financial support,” he said. “We need that to be as immediate as possible.”

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