Semblance of ‘normal’ returns to Fort McMurray

Semblance of ‘normal’ returns to Fort McMurray
Most Fort McMurray residents, at least those lucky enough to still have homes not lost to the wildfire, have been sleeping in their own beds for a week now.Photo: Jason Franson / The Canadian Press.

Most Fort McMurray residents, at least those lucky enough to still have homes not lost to the wildfire, have been sleeping in their own beds for a week now.

Life is getting back to normal for the city, at least as much as it can after such a traumatic event.

A boil water advisory still exists for much of the city, but services are slowly coming back online.

The fire that ravaged their town is controlled now, but still active, grumbling away, in spite of recent rainy weather. The monster fire now has a perimeter of almost 1000 kilometres.

Here is the update on the fire situation, including the status of all Alberta fires, plus the support situation for Fort McMurray residents, released by the Alberta government on June 10:

  • There was minimal growth in the Rural Municipality of Wood Buffalo wildfire yesterday, and the fire is nearly 73 per cent contained. It is estimated to cover 589,995 hectares, including the Saskatchewan side, with a perimeter estimate of 996 kilometres.
  • Crews have completed more than 535 kilometres of dozer guard.
  • Fire risk throughout the province has stabilized and now ranges from low to moderate with some extreme conditions in northern Alberta.
  • There are 17 active wildfires in Alberta, with only the RMWB fire out of control.
  • There are approximately 1,572 firefighters and support staff, 60 helicopters, 19 tankers and 37 pieces of heavy equipment battling fires across the province.
  • Environmental monitoring continues in the Fort McMurray region, including mobile air monitoring. Results of environmental testing data are now available online.
  • Hotspots are being managed in the Fort McMurray area. Anyone with information about new wildfires should call 1-866-394-3473. Reports of structural fires should be made to 911.
  • Weather forecast for the Fort McMurray area today: Approximately 22 C, 75 per cent relative humidity with winds from the north-northeast at 15 km/h.
  • Fire crews need safe access to air space. Drones or other airborne devices may not be flown without the approval of the Regional Emergency Operations Centre. Please see Transportation Canada for more information https://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/prairieandnorthern/menu.htm
  • During the 17 telephone town halls, 161,426 individuals participated online or over the phone. (Individuals who participated in multiple calls were counted as a participant each time.)
  • Since voluntary re-entry began on June 1, 45,268 people have visited information centres.

Update to provincial services in Fort McMurray:

  • All existing information centres and wildfire relief debit card pickup locations will close, effective Monday, June 13.
  • A new information centre will open in the Future Forward Building (9717 Franklin Avenue) to support long-term information needs beginning Monday, June 13; it will operate from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Wildfire relief funding debit cards will be available at the Alberta Works Centre inside the Fort McMurray Provincial Building (9915 Franklin Ave) as of Monday, June 13, between 8:15 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Debit cards will be available at Fort McMurray Composite High School until 8 p.m. on Sunday, June 12.
  • The Provincial Building will re-open on Monday, June 13, with many services restored. These include the Alberta Works Centre, Apprenticeship and Industry Training Offices, and the Northern Alberta Development Council.
    • Some services delivered at the Provincial Building may still be affected by staffing limitations; please contact specific offices for details before visiting.
    • Alberta Parks offices will not re-open on June 13.
  • The Community Corrections office has resumed operations. Individuals can call 780-743-7190 to make a report or get instructions. To call toll-free, dial 310-0000 first.
  • The Fish and Wildlife District Office has resumed operations and can be contacted by calling 780 743-7200.
  • Provincial Court will re-open on Monday, June 20.
  • The Oil Sands Discovery Centre will re-open on Friday, July 1.
  • Alberta Health Services will bring additional services online over the coming days:
    • The Northern Lights Regional Health Centre will begin providing medical & surgical in-patient, ICU, OR, obstetrical, pediatric and in-patient psychiatric services on Monday, June 13. At this point, all core services will be offered, with full service scheduled to be restored by June 21.
    • The Fort McMurray Urgent Care Centre will transition into a Fort McMurray Medical Clinic on Saturday, June 11 at 8 a.m. to providing primary care and family medicine as well as home-care services. The clinic will be located at the Keyano Syncrude Sports & Wellness Centre (9908 Penhorwood Street), operating from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week. The clinic will stay open until at leastJune 30.
    • Public Health services will move back to the Fort McMurray Community Health Services building (113 Thickwood Blvd), Monday to Friday, 8:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. A detailed list of services is available athttp://www.albertahealthservices.ca/news/page13198.aspx.
    • Addiction and mental-health services will relocate to the Fort McMurray Queen Street Building (10217 Queen Street) on June 10. Services will be available Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
    • Please see www.ahs.ca/wildfire for the most up-to-date information.
  • As of Friday, June 10, the Fort McMurray International Airport is open for limited commercial travel.
  • The Canadian Red Cross will open an office in Fort McMurray at 9816 Hardin Street on Monday, June 13. Office hours will be Monday through Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Information for NGOs and businesses offering support:

  • The volume of offers to respond to this crisis has been extraordinary. However, some service providers are deploying without co-ordinating with the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.
  • Any organizations wishing to offer their services to recovery should register with the RMWB at http://www.rmwb.ca/News-Room/RMWB-Wildfire-Information/Offers-of-Resources.htm or by contactinglogistics@rmwb.ca.

Health information:

  • A boil-water advisory remains in effect for all areas of Fort McMurray other than the Lower Townsite and Grayling Terrace. More information is available here:  http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/news/Page13221.aspx
  • Residents with the following medical issues should not return until the hospital is fully operational:
    • those with chronic medical conditions, such as asthma;
    • those who require regular primary care, home care or specialized treatment such as dialysis or cancer;
    • those who were recently discharged from hospital or who have had a transplant; and
    • women who are more than 36 weeks pregnant or who have a high-risk pregnancy.
  • Community addiction and mental-health crisis teams are available at the hospital. Counselling for addiction and mental health, including walk-in appointments, is available at the Syncrude Sports and Wellness Centre. Residents can also call the Mental Health Helpline at 1-877-303-2642

A roving community wellness team is providing mental-health support. Staff are available from 6 a.m. until 9 p.m. and are on call overnight. They can be reached by calling 780-370-0182 or 780-792-6378 or HealthLink at 811.

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