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relief funds

The south-east corner of Slave Lake was destroyed by fires. An aerial view around Slave Lake, Alta., on May 19, 2011.Jimmy Jeong/

The Alberta government is giving the fire-ravaged Slave Lake region an additional $189-million to help with rebuilding and recovery costs.

The province had already announced $100-million in funding shortly after a wildfire wiped out one-third of the community in May. About 2,000 people lost their homes.

"The support from the government's been tremendous and we couldn't have done it without them," Slave Lake Mayor Karina Pillay-Kinnee said Wednesday. "By working together, we're going to rebuild Slave Lake."

The Insurance Bureau of Canada has estimated the fire caused $700-million in damage.

The new government money, which brings total funding to $289-million, is being directed to three projects, including one for interim housing for displaced residents. Just over $47-million will be spent to move and hook up 350 modular homes in Slave Lake by the end of November.

Flat-bed trucks have already hauled in a few of the units. Ms. Pillay-Kinnee said it takes time to clear trees and run utilities to three spots designated to become mobile home parks.

Priority for the homes will be given to families with children so they can be settled for school, said Infrastructure Minister Ray Danyluk.

Many homeless residents have spent the last three months in motels or campers or have squeezed into the homes of friends and family.

"It's about getting back on your feet to be stronger," said Municipal Affairs Minister Hector Goudreau.

He said $77-million of the new funding will help Slave Lake and surrounding communities cover firefighting and emergency response costs. It will also help other towns and reserves that set up evacuation centres during the fire.

Bulldozers are still working to demolish and clean up the remains of 400 houses and other buildings levelled by the fire. Ms. Pillay-Kinnee said that work - half to be completed my mid-August - is covered by insurance companies.

Construction of replacement homes is expected to take two to three years.