Plans are moving along to ensure the RMWB is ready for a voluntary return of citizens starting June 1.
REOC Emergency Management Director Bob Couture said there have been positive results over the past week, from utility restoration to firefighting efforts, that have provided more confidence in the return date.
“Things are looking very positive for me at this time,” he said. “We’re making significant progress.”
Couture confirmed that crews had restored electricity and natural gas supplies to over 90% of the city. Also, fire crews are expanding after the cooler temperatures last weekend enabled firefighters to “surge” the active fire zones north-east of the city.
This week the RMWB will be rehearsing their re-entry plan, examining the readiness of their information centres and essential services for the return of citizens. The information centres will be key in the plan, as they will be responsible for distributing re-entry packages to residents. Those packages will include home cleaning and safety kits.
Despite optimism on the return date being achievable, Couture did say that air quality has been up and down depending on the winds. This morning, the province noted the AQHI was sitting at six in Fort McMurray. However, the Wood Buffalo Environmental Association is forecasting those levels to rise above 10 tonight and tomorrow.
With the air quality not expected to be ideal, those with respiratory or pulmonary issues, those who require regular medical care, women who are more than 36 weeks pregnant, and children under the age of 7 are being encouraged to stay back. The Northern Lights Regional Health Centre isn’t expected to be back to full operations until June 15.
Residents can read more about the re-entry plan and any questions they may have in the re-entry booklet.