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Fort Mac: Former Stephenville couple would have done things differently in wake of fire

['Judy Hoots stands near the entrance to her and husband Mike’s new home in Fort McMurray..']
['Judy Hoots stands near the entrance to her and husband Mike’s new home in Fort McMurray..']

Only five minutes.

That’s how long it took before Mike and Judy Hoots shut off their television last week while a show on the Discovery Channel about the Alberta wildfires was airing.

“We just couldn’t watch it anymore,” she said of the film.

The Hoots lost their mobile home one year today in the wildfires that ravaged Alberta and destroyed about a 10th of the city of Fort McMurray.

Judy Hoots said it’s still difficult sleeping a year later, especially after just watching a few minutes of that film.

“It all comes back. There are still nightmares,” she said in an interview from her home on Beacon Hill.

Every single mobile home that was in the section of Beacon Hill where they lived was destroyed in the wildfires.

FULL COVERAGE: Fire in Fort McMurray: One year later

The Hoots decided to rebuild there and had a modular home put in place; however, after being extremely underinsured they are questioning their decision.

Judy said with $10,000 of insurance left, they still need to put up a garage, a deck, fencing, landscaping and a driveway, which are required because of their mortgage.

She estimates their losses will be between $100,000 to $150,000.

“Mike (who works with Suncor) was supposed to retire in May but he certainly can’t do that now,” Judy, who continues to work with Keyano College, said.

They’re estimating another two years of working now.

After six weeks of living in a camper, then months of living in a basement apartment (which was a 45-minute drive to work) up to December, Judy loves being in their new home, which is a five-minute drive from her work.

The big drawback right now is that there are no trees and no grass at all to catch the water, so when it rains the whole trailer park area gets muddy.

“After a rain, we’re steady wiping off Sasha’s (their dog) paws with a towel when he comes in,” Hoots said.

She said Sasha is also still somewhat traumatized from all that took place, especially where they had so much moving around.

As for help outside the low rated insurance, she said there was only one group which wants to remain anonymous, that helped them out and paid for their living room furniture.

Once they retire, they plan to remain in Alberta as they have a nice few family members there, including three brothers, a sister and her mom Adella Cormier, who is now 83 years of age and still active.

As for insurance, she encourages people to check their policies and if they don’t have guaranteed replacement value on contents, to make sure that it’s added.

“Lots of people up here found out the hard way,” she said.

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Stephenville woman loses sleep because of close call in Alberta wildfire

The Beacon Hill mobile home section of Fort McMurray, AB that was ravaged by wildfires last year is slowly building back up with about 25 homes in place but lots of landscaping left to do.

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