Phased re-entry into Fort McMurray expected to start June 1
A voluntary, phased re-entry for the safe return of Fort McMurray residents will begin June 1 if future wildfire conditions do not delay restoration efforts.
Re-entry should be complete by June 15, to coincide with full restoration of Northern Lights Regional Health Centre.
We will be directing that schools in the area that were closed during the evacuation will not be conducting formal classes until September.
Residents of homes lost to the fire will have the opportunity to inspect their property and collect any surviving items before cleanup begins.
“Many hazards remain in Fort McMurrary. We need to address them before it’s safe for residents to return home. We’ve developed a phased and voluntary re-entry plan with the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo that begins with the least damaged areas.”
“I want to thank both the Premier and the Minister for working and consulting with us on a timetable for re-entry. Safety remains paramount before we can return home, but today’s announcement will bring comfort to all evacuees looking to start rebuilding their lives.”
Residents can only return when five key conditions are met:
- Wildfire is no longer an imminent threat
- Critical infrastructure to support essential services is repaired and restored to provide a basic service level.
- Essential services are restored to basic level, including:
- Emergency Services (Fire, EMS, Police, 911)
- Open, safe transportation to, and within, the community (includes traffic controls)
- Access to emergency medical care and patient transport
- Access to potable water, electricity and gas
- Access to food, pharmaceuticals, banks and other essentials
- Access to mental health supports
- Hazardous areas are secure
- Local government is re-established
“Safe re-entry is essential to any timing and will not be compromised," said Mayor Melissa Blake. "It is helpful to have a plan that covers both a high need to respect citizens' wishes to return with only basic services, as well as an extended range that provides a more comfortable re-entry timeline.”
The re-entry of residents will occur by zone number to allow for efficient and safe traffic flow up Highway 63. Phased re-entry also ensures that limited services will be available to residents. The re-entry schedule and details for residents will be available online. (www.emergency.alberta.ca)
- Zone 1 – Lower Townsite, Anzac
- Zone 2 (a) – Parsons Creek, Stone Creek, Timberlea North of Confederation
- Zone 2 (b) – Eagle Ridge, Timberlea south of Confederation, Dickensfield
- Zone 3 – Thickwood, Wood Buffalo
- Zone 4 (a) – Gregoire, Saprae Creek Estates
- Zone 4 (b) Waterways, Abasand, Beacon Hill
Before returning to the community, residents are advised to:
- Check the status of your property with the Fire Assessment Tool. Updated maps are expected soon.
- Call your insurance company about what it requires from you regarding information about your property and any damage it may have sustained
- Speak with your mortgage holder/lender about mortgage/payment options
Residents with the following medical conditions or situations should not return to the community until the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre is fully operational:
- A chronic or acute medical condition, such as asthma
- Anyone requiring regular primary care, specialist care, laboratory or diagnostic services
- Anyone requiring counselling or mental-health services
- Anyone more than 36 weeks pregnant or with a high-risk pregnancy
- Anyone receiving cancer treatment, dialysis or other specialized medical services
- Anyone requiring home care, home oxygen or home health supports
- Anyone recently discharged from hospital or who has had a transplant
What to expect when you return to the community:
- Most critical infrastructure has been restored, but several services will not be fully restored immediately.
- A number of fires are still burning in the region. If weather conditions change, there is a possibility of smoke in the air. The smoke may not necessarily be cause for alarm.
- Essential contact information will be provided to assist with issues such as utility connections and protective services (i.e. gas, power, water, phone, police, fire, EMS).
- Community Information Centres will open in various locations to provide a variety of services and information, including mental-health supports. Locations will be listed online before May 31.
What residents returning home should bring:
- If possible, bring a three- to seven-day supply of food for you and your pets – including drinking water – as a “boil-water” advisory will remain in place. Your fridge/freezer may not be usable so it is advisable to bring non-perishable goods. You may wish to bring a cooler for perishable items.
- Some pharmacies and the hospital will be functional at basic levels; however, please fill prescriptions before returning to your community.
- Bring long-sleeved shirts, long pants and rubber boots
- Bring flashlights and batteries
- Bring a camera and/or video camera to document any damage to your property for insurance purposes
- Bring hand soap and/or hand sanitizer (at least 60 per cent alcohol)
- If your home was destroyed or severely damaged, government is working on a plan to support your housing needs on an interim basis.
Damage Assessment Stats:
- 19,244 structures have been assessed
- 1,921 have been destroyed
- 17,156 are OK to occupy
- 121 are limited to restricted use
- 39 are unsafe to occupy/enter
- Seven are still to be inspected
Media Lead, Provincial Operations Centre