‘We’re gonna get through this:’ Enterprise SAO says 80 per cent of his community is gone

Blair Porter is confident his community will come back stronger than ever.

A photo showing some of the devastation to the Hamlet of Enterprise last August. (Tammy Gauthier Neal/Facebook photo)

Blair Porter is confident his community will rebuild.

That’s a tall order, considering how little of it is left.

Porter, the SAO for the Hamlet of Enterprise, estimates about 80 per cent of his home community was burned to the ground when wildfire tore through the area.

“They let us through to do an assessment there yesterday. And yeah, basically the core of the community is gone. It’s just the foundations that are left, if that. It’s pretty devastating.”

Porter says about 11 homes are left standing. So are several community buildings, including the rec centre, hamlet office, and fire hall. Others, like the municipal garage, were destroyed.

Of the half dozen communities that have had to evacuate this month due to wildfire, Enterprise is the only one to sustain damage as of the morning of Aug. 21.

It’s a devastating blow for a community that has served as a safe haven for evacuees during the worst wildfire season since 2014.

In addition to the destroyed buildings, Porter says telephone and internet infrastructure are severely damaged as well. “There’s a lot of work ahead of us, it’s not going to be a quick fix. All those things have to be accounted for before we can actually have a plan nailed down as to what we’re going to do long term.”

The fire that tore through Enterprise was estimated to be 8 kilometres south of Hay River at its closest point as of the evening of Aug. 20.

Porter says there wasn’t much time for residents to flee: “We tried to put a notice out to our residents, and within 10 minutes, it went from a notice to an order, which didn’t give very much time to get prepared at all.”

“We had to push to get an update for it, and then some of the updates weren’t coming as quick as we’d like. Now, we understand that the internet being down as well as the comms being down certainly complicated things, but it’s been a struggle.”

Currently, Porter says the Hamlet is still working out the details of how the community might rebuild. But, he says, “we’re gonna get through this, we’re gonna go back and we’re going to be stronger than ever.”

About the Author

Ian Down
Ian Down is a general news reporter from the West Island of Montreal. After studying journalism and computer science at Concordia University, he came to Yellowknife in 2021, joining the CKLB team in September 2022. When not behind his desk, you can find him at a local Yellowknife poetry reading, or annoying his roommates by playing his clarinet at odd hours. Feel free to reach out with any tips or story ideas at ian.down@cklb.com, or follow him on Twitter at @IanDown1996.