Town Hall Summary for May 11th 2016
The fire has now reached a size of 229 000 hectares, as it combined with two other fires.
There are approximately 1579 first responders on scene, with 32 helicopters, 15 water bombers and fire fighting equipment.
Mandatory evacuation still in place for Fort McMurray, Anzac, Gregoire Lake Estates, Saprae Creek and Fort McMurray First Nations.
There are 14 active receptions centers in Alberta alone to help evacuees.
So far 612 pets have been rescued and sent to the animal reception center in Edmonton, they have received checkups from veterinarians and been treated if injured. Call the SPCA to be reunited with you pets.
Crews are leaving food and water in the homes of those who reported a pet left but may be shy and run away and hide from people entering home.
Crews are working with the municipal, provincial and federal governments, along with Oil Sands companies and experts to get an accurate date of when residents will be able to head to Fort McMurray to get things from their homes, and eventually move back.
Crutial infrastructure is priority for crews at this time. Assessing the damage to systems like drinkable water, sewage, gas, electricity and other to ensure all are in working order before letting residents return home. As well as secondary infrastructure such as roads and sidewalks, to make sure all access points of each are in town are open and safe for residents.
There are 400 RCMP currently in the Fort McMurray region doing 24 hour a day patrols to maintain safety of property and control access to town and highway 63, making sure only those who are permitted to enter the city or drive through to the oil sands sites are the only ones there.
Restocking of the northern camps is underway so employees of the oil sands sites are able to have shelter, food water and necessities for when they return to work as the plants start to be turned back on. No access through town is allowed from anyone driving north to work, fly in fly out arrangements are being made along with bussing workers in and out of town. Contact your supervisor for the information on how and when you will be sent back to work.
100 workers from Alberta Health services have returned to Fort McMurray and are staying at the Syncrude camp in order to start up operations at the hospital and repair the minor damages sustained.
As of now Downtown has full powered restored, crews are continuing to assess every neighborhood and home to repair and reactivate power, gas, water and sewage.
The Emergency financial help in the form of debit cards have started to be given out, there are locations in Edmonton, Calgary and Lac La Biche to pick them up. More locations will be added. For those who are out of Alberta plans are being put in place for you to access your funds. They ask those who are able to wait for the cards, please let those with a more immediate need get them. Lines will be long as workers try and get everyone through the lines quick and possible. If there are seniors or people with medical concerns and aren’t sure if waiting in line is ok for them, health care staff will be on scene to assist you and make sure you will not be in any kind of risk to your health.
There is no restriction on how you use the funds from these debit cards, getting any other kind of government aid does not disqualify you from getting this assistance. There is no time limit to pick up your card.
If you let others go first you are still able to pick yours up later.
If you are looking for mental health assistance call Alberta Mental Health line at 1-877-3036-2642 or Health link Alberta at 811. Those who live on reserves and seek mental health services they ask you to contact your reserves health center. If you are outside of Alberta, please contact your local health regions for mental health assistance.
If you are in need of a new Alberta Health Care Card call 310-0000 then 780-427-1432.
Make sure you talk to your insurance provider to start a claim on your home and vehicle, to make sure all the right steps are put in motion, and to possibly get the compensation you may be entitled to with your policy.
Questions and Answers
Q – Are there any forms of help for small business owners who do not compensate for EI?
A – As an evacuee you still qualify for the preloaded debit cards given from the Alberta Government. You are eligible for help through the Red Cross. You can contact Alberta works for possible assistance and contact your insurance provider as there should be some kind of business interruption insurance, and other forms of compensation though that.
Q – How will people outside of Alberta get financial assistance?
A- The emergency financial aid debit cards are for all of those evacuated from Fort McMurray, if you are out of province; plans are being put in place for you to receive this. You can also call the Red Cross all across Canada and ask for financial assistance through them as well.
Q – Can I drive from Boyle to work north of Fort McMurray?
A – No. Highway 63 North is still restricted to essential Personnel only. The government is working with industry leaders on ways to get workers to and from camp, as of now it will be fly in fly out, or bussed up. Call your supervisor to find out how you will be taken to work and camp.
Q – How can it be made sure only qualified personnel are hired to do damage assessments and clean up and rebuild?
A – Only qualified personnel are currently working on damage assessments of all utilities and infrastructure. As for clean up and rebuild, a list of companies who are contacting to aid in this is being compiled and filtered to make sure only those who are fully qualified are doing the work. When it comes to repairs and rebuilds of your home, talk to your insurance provider as you are the one who has final say of who does the work.
Q – Are there any third parties able to help with deferring payments of my mortgage, or able to help with mortgage payments?
A – Your mortgage provider is not obligated to extend payments, or differ them at all. Talk you’re your mortgage broker and insurance to find out what can be done to help with payments. This is also a reason why the government is issuing the 1,250$ debit cards, to help with payments or expenses.
Q – For workers going back to camp, is there a plan in place to evacuate in case the fire becomes a problem again?
A – The fire continues to move east away from Fort McMurray and the oil sands; safety is the number one priority for the oil sands. If there becomes any issues plan will be in place for an evacuation or any scenario that may arise.
Q –Is there any new reports on Eagle Ridge?
A – As of now no, they are in the middle of taking high definition photos of the entire city that will be made available to the public to view the damage to their homes, and to assist insurance companies to assess damage as well. When finished, you will be able to see a 360 degree view of your home.
Q – Will small businesses get early access to Fort McMurray to get ready for reentry of the population?
A – As part of the reentry plan, key businesses will be set back up for people to be able to return. They are committed to work with small businesses to make sure they are able to start back up and run again when access to Fort McMurray is granted.
Q – Should the fridge in our home be sealed and removed? Are there plans in place to make this happen and get us replacement fridges?
A – Plans for the removal of fridges are going to be with the reentry plan set for release within two weeks, more info on this then.
Q – Is there an update on what’s already been repaired in Fort McMurray?
A – As of now crews are going around assessing all the primary infrastructure like water, power, gas sewage to ensue it’s in safe condition and will be doing repairs as needed. Secondairy infrastructure such as roads will also be checked and repaired to make sure it’s safe for people to return to Fort McMurray.
Q – How am I supposed to remember everything that was I my home for the insurance company?
A – Insurance companies do need a detailed list of the items that were lots in your home. You can go to IBC.ca for example lists, or help with any information you require when it comes to insurance claims, or your rights, and what you are allowed to do in regards to insurance.
Q – I am not currently in Alberta, how do I receive my debit card from the Alberta Government?
A – There is no time limit to get your card, if you are coming back into the province soon you can get it. They are also working on ways to get residents outside of Alberta the money they are entitled to whether it be through electronic fund transfer or another way. More info on this in the coming days.
Q – Has there been powered maintained in any area of town?
A – The power has been on and off throughout the city as crews try to assess damage to the grids.
Q – Will insurance adjuster be entering our homes without us there?
A – no. They will first assess the outside damage of your home, talk to your insurance company of the right to enter your home.
Q – When we are allowed to return to Fort McMurray will we be able to move into our home that is part the areas badly affected like Beacon Hill or Abasand?
A – Assessments have to be made to ensure all Hazards are removed before you are able to return to your home, and that the correct infrastructure is in place for you to do so. They are li=looking into temporary housing in Fort McMurray for those who are unable to move into their own home.
Q – I had to pay for my prescription medication as I am outside Alberta, will I receive compensation for this?
A – Your Alberta Blue Cross is not Valid outside of the province so you will have to pay out of pocket, another reason for the preloaded debit cards, and money given out by The Red Cross.
Q – I am a mechanic; my tools are in Fort McMurray, am I able to make arrangements to go pick them up?
A – Because Fort McMurray is still a mandatory evacuation zone; you are not able to go into the city at any time to retrieve anything.
Q – My friend was in the Wood Buffalo Housing in Abasand that burned down; will there be other housing for them when we are able to return to the city?
A – a plan for temporary housing is being made, not sure what Wood Buffalo Housing will do for those who lived in their places that are now gone.
Q – I have not yet applied for EI, when I do will they back date the claim to last week?
A- You must contact your employer to figure out your last day of work. Ask EI for information on their policies.
Q – I left my truck at Shell Albian Sands, can I go and get it?
A – No you are not able to drive through Fort McMurray due to the mandatory evacuation, call Shell Albian camp and register your vehicle. They are working with industry leader to formulate a plan on how to get people to their vehicles.
Q – The Butter Dome in Edmonton is really busy, is there other places open in Edmonton to get my pre loaded debit card issued by the Alberta Government?
A – As of right now now, they are looking into adding another location in Edmonton, and continue to make wake times less and less and appreciate your patience. There are fake posts online about different locations to receive your debit cards, these are not real locations. Only follow the information given by credited sources.
Q – Are there health risks associated with the fire retardant used in the city?
A – Assessments are being made to know whether or not health risks will exist due to the fire retardant. However it is made up of mostly organic materials like salt, so there shouldn’t be any health issues. It does however dye siding and shingles and other things red, insurance companies are aware of this, and it is covered.
Q – I am no longer employed due to the fire, am I able to break my lease without any penalties?
A – There is no obligation by renters to release you from your lease at no charge, or even give you back this month’s rent, or cancel next month’s rent payment. Talk to your landlord and ask what they are willing to do.
Q – Is there any compensation for those who work in Fort McMurray but do not live there?
A – The preloaded debit cards and e-transfers from the Red Cross are going to those individuals who were evacuated from Fort McMurray and surrounding area, whether you lived there or not. You have to register with the Red Cross in order to receive.
Q – My condo association is not waiving condo fees.
A – They are not required by law to wave or suspend any fees due to an evacuation.
Q – Is there anything in place to help with students who don’t qualify for EI?
A – The preloaded debit cards, Red Cross help, Alberta works are there to help, and you may also be covered under your parents’ insurance.
Q – When will we know when we can return to Fort McMurray and start to work so I can formulate a financial plan?
A – All assessments are being done to ensure the date set for return is the correct one, they don’t want to set a date then have to change it due to something over looked. Work is being done 24 hours a day 7 days a week to get residents back to Fort McMurray as soon as possible and safely.