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Summary of town Hall May 19, 2016

Fort McMurray, AB, Canada / MIX 103.7

Summary of town Hall May 19, 2016

At this time as reentry dates have been announced, begin to make plans on your own reentry process, gather the things you will need such as non-perishable foods, water, long sleeved clothes, pants, rubber boots, flashlights, batteries, coolers or even a small fridge as yours may be unusable.

Even though the reentry dates are good news, it may lead to more stress or anxiety or other mental health problems. Go get the help you need. Seeking help is not a weakness, it is a strength. You can access all the mental health resources at Health Link Alberta just call 811 or the Mental Health Line at 1-877-303-2642.

Cooler temperatures have helped with air quality in the region, it started at 3 today then went up to 10 which was way lower than the 51 experienced yesterday. It was even a 10 in Edmonton today as the winds pushed smoke down south.

Repairs on the hospital were halted do to extremely bad air quality, but are set to resume tomorrow.

Retail entry will start earlier than the June 1st date on a voluntary basis, as the RMWB works on a list of essential retail stores needed to be fully functional upon the resident’s reentry. They have already started contacting those essential retail businesses such as grocery stores, gas stations, banks and others.

Natural gas has been restored to 75 percent of the community, however upon return you will have to get an ATCO Gas Representative to come and turn the gas on at your meter, and then they will reignite appliances with you so it’s done safely. There will be many employees on site as the demand for this will be very high.

The explosion in Dickensfield is still under investigation.

 

Scott Long’s Fire Update

The fire was held all day on all fronts

The cooler temperatures and rain in the forecast will be a huge help on containing the fires.

The fire is now over 505 thousand hectares, and had breached the Saskatchewan border, 771 hectares of the fire is in Saskatchewan.

There are 987 firefighters battling the blaze, 50 helicopters, 170 pieces of heavy equipment holding the fire by Northlands and have prevented the fire from jumping Highway 63.

No further damage to camps north of town or any oil sands plants.

There was 1 new fire started today west of Janvier. It is 130 hectares in size, contained quickly by firefighters.

Transitional housing for those who do not have insurance or have lost their homes is available. If you are in need of help, contact the Red Cross 1-888-350-6070 or visit any Alberta Works office and explain your situation. If you are able to afford interim housing the website rentcafe.ca has listings of housing helping Fort McMurray evacuees.

For answers to specific questions call 310-4455

 

Questions and Answers

Q – June 1st seems to be a bit soon; do you feel rushed by the public to allow people to return?
A – No, we have been speaking with our experts on the timeline to get all the 5 criteria into place before allowing reentry.

1 – Wildfire and air quality no longer an issue to public
2 – Basic infrastructure in place (water, gas, electricity, etc.)
3 – Services must be in place (grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies, banks)
4 – Hazardous materials and areas contained
5 – Local government has to be reestablished (this one is already complete)

If any of these five criteria are not met by June 1st, the date will be pushed back.

Q – I’m hearing about people accessing Red Cross funds at local post offices, can I go get mine there if I haven’t receive my email transfer from the Red Cross?
A – Only those people who were sent a text message and told to head to their nearest post office should do so. If you have not received your electronic funds yet, please contact the Red Cross – 1-888-350-6070.

Q – I do not have my ID or one that has my Fort McMurray address, am I still able to receive funds from the Red Cross or the debit card?
A – Yes, but go to the nearest Red Cross office to update your information, or to a registries to get your ID updated.

Q – One of the five conditions for reentry is good air quality, at what point or number would you change the date due to air quality?
A – The air quality will have to be steady for a while in order for people to return, with the cooler temperatures air quality is expected to remain good, and will be at a safe level upon return. If you have health conditions like respiratory issues contact a doctor or health link Alberta at 811 for case to case basis on when it’s safe for you to return.

Q – Is there an update on how to access the Government of Alberta debit cards if you are out of Alberta?
A – As of right now, no, they are working with partners and other provinces on a plan of disbursement for those evacuees out of Alberta, information on this will be available soon.

Q – I’ve heard if you enter your home without an insurance adjuster for the first time, you void your insurance policy. Is this true?
A – No this is false; you are able to enter your home without an insurance adjuster. IF you start to clean up before one arrives, take pictures and document all damage so they can see it. Your policy will not be voided.

Q – What is the difference between a voluntary reentry, and a normal reentry?
A – A voluntary reentry means there are still risks to going back. Poor air quality, lack of resources and more. The people who chose to go back under a voluntary reentry understand the risks and are still willing to go. You do not have to return under a voluntary reentry.

Q – Are tenants allowed to enter their suites before the landlords have assessed them for damages?
A – Yes, they are allowed to enter

Q – Are there fires in or around Fort McMurray posing a threat to the city?
A – There is no threat from the fire to Fort McMurray at this time, hot spots and flare ups are still happening and being quickly stopped by fire crews. The province has set up many assets all over Alberta to assure if another fire starts anywhere, they will be quickly attended too.

Q – Is the mandatory evacuation still in place for the camps north of Fort McMurray?
A – Yes they are, reentry for these camps will be different and most likely have a different date and plan than that of the Fort McMurray reentry plan because they are a separate thing and place.

Q – I live in Abasand and have lost my home, when I am able to return on June 4th will there be accommodations in place for me to stay?
A – The June 4th date is the earliest date you can return, you don’t have to go back on this date. Interim housing will be set up for those who have lost homes or can’t stay in their homes due to damage, while repairs are finished. However this housing may not be in place for the voluntary reentry dates. More information on this will be given as the reentry date approaches.

Q – After the disbursement centers for the debit cards close, where can I go to get mine?
A – You are able to go to the Alberta Works offices in Edmonton, Calgary, Lac La Biche, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Red Deer and Grand Prairie to access your debit card. The Butterdome in Edmonton will be open Saturday may 21st from 10-2 for those who have not yet retrieved their cards.

Q – Will my family doctor be ready to take appointments upon return June 1st?
A – Essential businesses will have the opportunity to go in early and get up and running for the reentry date. However only basic services will be available in the short term, if you require regular visits to the doctor, or have certain medical conditions going up during the voluntary reentry may not be best for you.

Q – Will there be summer programs in place for our children?
A – There will be no schools operating until the start of the next school year in September; a plan to have some kind of summer camps or programs is being put into place.

Q – When will all stores and services be back up and running?
A – Essential retail stores will be open upon return, there is no way to say when all stores will be open, as many depend on water so they won’t be able to operate until the boil water advisory is over. Or depending on the amount of damage to the store it may take some time.

Q – What kind of smoke damage can we expect to our homes upon return?
A – The extent of smoke damage to your home depends, on certain things, like how close you were to the fire, if your windows were left open. There will be no way to say how much smoke damage there is to your home until to you go and see. As part of the reentry an extensive information package will be given, one area in the package will be how to clean smoke damage.

Q – For those who have lost their homes, whose responsibility is it to remove rubble and basements?
A – This will all be covered by your insurance policy. Companies are working together with the RMWB to do all this clean up at once so it’s done quickly and efficiently after you have had the opportunity to return to your home.

Q – What do I do with my fridge?
A – The power was fluctuating all over town; you may only have to throw out the food in your fridge or freezer and not the whole unit. If you do have to throw out the whole unit, seal it, and a mass collection plan is being put into place. In the information package, it will let you know exactly what to do.

Q – My business requires clean water to operate, how am I supposed to do so with a boil water advisory in affect.
A – If your business requires the use of lots of clean water now is not the time to try and open as clean water will be in short supply until maybe the end of June.

Q – Are there radiation concerns in areas of Fort McMurray?
A – There has been and will be extensive testing for any nuclear emission, last tests done there were no traces of anything nuclear. More tests will be done before reentry, they are pretty positive nothing will be found.

Q – When will the boil water advisory end?
A – Crews are working hard to have all repairs to the water system. As of now the date for the advisory to end is at the end of June baring no further setbacks.

Q – If I’m pregnant should I return right away?
A – As the hospital will not be fully functional, healthcare resources for you such as prenatal care will not be available, there won’t be clean drinkable water until at least the end of June, and air quality may not be the best for you and your baby. Staying where you are with access to doctors and full healthcare would be better for you.

Q – Will there be anything in place for people without insurance, like funding for repairs or a place to live?
A – The government is committed to help all those affected by the wildfire, if you do not have insurance, help will be available for you to find a place to live and help with other things you may need. The Red Cross is working with Human Resources to help those without insurance to get what they need.

Q – Will anyone be contacting big box stores to get into town and start clean up and restocking for the reentry?
A – They have already started contacting essential retail stores, so far 7 grocery stores have started to assess damage and determine what they need to do to be able to serve residents upon return. More and more essential businesses will be contact over the next few weeks.

Q – I do not have insurance, and am staying in a hotel; will there be help for my hotel bill during this evacuation?
A – No there will not be help for hotel bills, if you need a place to stay or financial help, you can contact the Red Cross at 1-888-350-6070 or call the wildfire info line for answers to specific questions and needs at 310-4455.

Q – How many people are expected to return during the voluntary reentry?
A – There is no way to predict the number of people who will return right away.

Q – Will there be enough resources for all those who return during the voluntary reentry?
A – This is why a staged reentry is being put in place; there will be limited resources at the beginning while businesses return full function. So they ask we all abide by the phased reentry plan to not overload the resources set up.

Q – Does the voluntary reentry mean my insurance help ends?
A – When a mandatory evacuation order is lifted, that part of your insurance policy does end. However if you have damage to your home, then the additional living expenses section of your policy will be triggered. Red Cross will be helping as much as they can to help.

Q – Do we need ID to return to Fort McMurray?
A – This is unknown at this time; a comprehensive information package will be given out before reentry with this information.

Q – Will it be ok for my children to return to Fort McMurray right away?
A – There is no safe age of return, but if you look at the air quality, lack of clean water and resources the voluntary reentry timeline may not be the best time to bring children back, especially without school and a fully functioning hospital.

Q – Is there still a fire threat to Fort McMurray?
A – No, there is no more threat from the forest fire to Fort McMurray, as most of the vegetation (fuel) around the city has been burned already.

Q – Is cell service available in Fort McMurray?
A – Yes

Q – Will there be busing or cab service set up in Fort McMurray for the voluntary reentry?
A – They are working on a plan to have busing set up upon reentry, more information will be given later.

Q – Will there be extra security during reentry?
A – There is and will be a strong RCMP in the region for reentry and the future to assure the safety if residents, and the security of people’s homes.

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