Summary of tonight’s teleconference Monday May 9th
State of the fire
The fire spread east of the city, getting closer to the Saskatchewan border, it is now 204 thousand hectares
Fire crews have been working on putting out hot spots and preventing flare ups
Fire crews have held the fires to the north of town approaching Suncor, and the fire south of town around Anzac
No additional structures have been lost in the communities on top of the 2400 lost
Over 700 firefighters working on battling the fire, with 300 more on the way to relieve those who have been there since the beginning
No new fires have started in the last 24 hours.
Priorities of emergency personnel
Fire crews are working to protect infrastructure around town, homes, water treatment plant, electrical lines, and municipality buildings
There are 300 RCMP officers on the ground with 300 more arriving soon to insure protection of everyone there, doing animal rescues and strictly monitoring access north on highway 63 only allowing essential personnel to enter Fort McMurray at this time
Notes from Premier Ratchel Notley
2400 structures have been lost, with 25 000 saved, a total of 90% of Fort McMurray still standing
Fort McMurray will be saved and rebuilt as soon as possible
It is NOT safe to return to Fort McMurray yet, please do not drive the highway for four hours just to be turned around.
Within two weeks a schedule for return will be given
Utilities and vital resources must be put back into place before we are allowed to return i.e power, natural gas, safe drinking water, grocery stores, gas stations etc.
Information on where to get the preloaded debit cards (1,250 $ per adult and 500$ per dependants) given out to all evacuees will be given within the next few days
If you are able to wait for these cards please do and let those who have no money receive them first. There is no deadline on when you’ll have to pick up the pre loaded cards, so for those who wait you won’t be under a deadline to pick them up
More town halls to be held, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday
Answers to questions asked
Q: When will we be able to return home?
A: Within two weeks a schedule of return will be given. Crews have to go into the city and do a damage assessment. Find out how long it will take to restore all utilities to each area of town. Find out when it will be safe to return without any further chances of flare ups or hot spots. Assessment of how long it will take to reestablish grocery stores, gas stations, the hospital and municipal affairs before people can return. The schedule of return will outline when people will be let back in to retrieve items, then when we will be able to move back to Fort McMurray and the surrounding communities, and when cleanup will commence.
Q: Are we able to go up and help emergency personnel with fighting the fires or assessing damages.
A: There is no need for volunteers to go and help with these operations, there are plenty of personnel on scene to complete these tasks with more on the way. If you wish to volunteer or help, contact the Red Cross as they are looking for more volunteers to help with their efforts to help evacuees.
Q: What parts of the city have power?
A: Atco Gas and Atco Electric have crews on the ground assessing the damage to utilities and how long it will take to completely restore them. At this time some areas of downtown have minimal power, with the southern RCMP detachment up and running.
Q: When will there be accurate pictures and reports of damages to properties.
A: The government is working with agencies to take HD aerial shots of Fort McMurray to give accurate facts on the damage of specific residents. This should be happening within the next few days and given out shortly after, along with crews going house to house to inspect damages.
Q: Where can we get help if we are not in Edmonton or in the province?
A: If not in Alberta go to the local Red Cross office and explain your situation, they will assist you. If in Alberta, visit the reception centers, Red Cross offices, donation centers, and Alberta works to try and get financial assistance.
Q: Where can we get information on housing for the time being?
A: The reception centers have Red Cross personnel and information on where evacuees can stay, and places offering housing.
Q: I have flights booked out of Fort McMurray in the coming weeks, what should I do?
A: If you have flights booked out of Fort McMurray, contact your airline and ask for refund or see what they will do for you as the Fort McMurray International Airport will not be open anytime soon.
Q: I don’t have any I.D. can I still receive aid?
A: Go see the Red Cross personnel for help even if you do not have any I.D. they will still assist you. Contact Alberta works or registries to get new I.D. fast tracked.
Q: Do I need to contact my insurance even if my house may not be damaged?
A: Yes, contact your insurance provider and start a claim even if you might not have damage. They will start your claim and if no damage then nothing further will happen. You probably have access to funds through your house insurance or rental insurance as it was declared a state of emergency. If you do not know you insurance provider, call 1-844-2ask IBC or email@example.com
Q: Will I be able to drive through Fort McMurray for work at site?
A: As of now no, a plan is being put in place with oil sands employers to get workers to and from work
Q: People on social media are asking for volunteers to go up and help with cleanup, are these ads real?
A: Non-essential personnel are not allowed to return to town. When clean up starts to happen when it’s safe to do so crews will be sent to help with cleanup, the posts you see saying that crews are headed up soon are not giving true information.
Q: Will my insurance premiums be going up after this?
A: At this time we cannot say if there will be a change in insurance premiums, but as more people get payouts premiums go up as a way for insurance companies to function.
Q: Will there be water damage to my home?
A: Water and fire retardant has been dropped on many homes, the red dye from the fire retardant can be washed off.
Q: Is water and fire retardant damage to my home and vehicle covered by insurance?
A: Yes, water damage and fire retardant damage is covered by your insurance.
If in need of mental health assistance or just wish to speak to anyone you can call 811, there’s mental health staff at all reception centers and plans are being made to give access for mental health during and after this time for residents and emergency response personnel. You can also call the mental health line or any of these agencies http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/amh/amh.aspx