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Town Hall Summary for Thursday May 26, 2016

Fort McMurray, AB, Canada / MIX 103.7

Town Hall Summary for Thursday May 26, 2016

A big thanks to all those who have been working hard to make sure Fort McMurray is a safe place to return for residents. Thank you to all crews and first responders who continue to work hard battling the fires. And thank you to all who help doing what they can for the evacuees.

There were 2500 structures lost; this includes single family homes, duplexes, apartment buildings, town houses etc. The majority of homes in Fort McMurray are still livable.

The Northlands reception center is currently transitioning away from an overnight facility, Red Cross representatives are on site to aid those still living there get temporary housing before the return to Fort McMurray.

The air quality is still an issue in Fort McMurray today it sat steady at an 11 on the scale of 1-10.

9-1-1 is now fully functional in Fort McMurray.

Results for all tests on soil and contaminants in the air will be ready within 48 hours, so they will know for sure what hazards are in the3 different areas of town such as asbestos or uranium. As of now the rumors of uranium present in town are just rumors, they cannot confirm until these test results are completed.

The temporary medical facility saw 22 patients yesterday, and 44 patients requiring mental health aid.

The city will be operating at a basic level during the voluntary reentry. If you plan on returning and staying there, bring enough food, water, prescriptions, medical supplies, clothing etc. for 14 days as resources will be very limited in Fort McMurray. Your fridge or freezer may be unusable so bring non-perishable food items, coolers or even a mini fridge.

If you have health conditions requiring regular doctor visits, are pregnant or nursing, have respiratory issues or special dietary needs now is not the proper time for you to return and resources will be very limited.

Boil water advisory is still in place and will be until they can flush out all of the water lines, test them do repairs then restart the system. This will probably take until the end of June if everything remains on schedule.

If you return during the voluntary reentry period and cannot access your home due to it being destroyed or unlivable, make sure you have an alternate place to stay as the interim housing may not be in place yet.

Make sure you have your own plan of reentry to coincide with the reentry plan from the RMWB, maybe it involves:
– Having one adult from your household going to Fort McMurray to assess the damage, gather a few things then returning to your temporary accommodations.
– Waiting until schools are back up and running next school year
– Waiting until the hospital is running at full capacity
– Waiting until the boil water advisory is lifted
– Making sure you have enough supplies for 14 days as resources are at a basic level during the voluntary reentry
– Making sure you get the reentry booklet as it contains all of the information you need to know about reentry.

There are 14 inspections of camps north of town to accommodate workers that are ready to open, with many others in the assessment and repair stages of industry reentry.
More information will be given for vehicle recovery from camps North of town.
If you left your vehicle at Syncrude including Mildred Lake please call 1-888-570-2303.

The Fire Update

Fire conditions are high to extreme in northeastern Alberta.

The Fort McMurray wildfire remains out of control. It is estimated to cover more than 566,188 hectares in Alberta and about 3,200 hectares in Saskatchewan.

As of 7 a.m., there were 20 active wildfires in Alberta, with one out of control.

There are 2,062 firefighters, 105 helicopters, 258 pieces of heavy equipment and 24 air tankers currently battling the fires across Alberta.

Wildfire crews from across the world are currently supporting – or en route to support – the efforts in Alberta, including:

-280 firefighters from South Africa
-200 firefighters from the United States
-113 firefighters from British Columbia
-85 firefighters from Ontario
-44 firefighters from Quebec
-30 firefighters from Northwest Territories
-22 firefighters from New Brunswick
-Eight firefighters from Parks Canada
-Six firefighters from Saskatchewan
-Three firefighters from Newfoundland/Prince Edward Island
-Three firefighters from Nova Scotia

With higher humidity in the forecast and the potential for showers, it is expected that firefighting conditions will improve through the weekend.

Questions and Answers

Q – Is it ok to bathe in the water in Fort McMurray without boiling it?
A – Yes, the boil water advisory in place because they can’t guarantee the water is clean or bacteria or germs until they flush out the system, assess for damage and repair it then restart the system and test the water again. It is only unsafe to drink it, so bathing is fine. After you wash your hands however, use an alcohol based hand sanitizer to kill the bacteria and you touch your face constantly.

Q – Will there be any leniency on the 48 hour street parking rule, or the camper parking in the front yard of homes during the reentry and months after?
A – They are working on a plan for this, as they are all aware of the situation there will be leniency for these two bylaws
– Parking a vehicle on the street in front of your home is only permitted for a time of 48 hours at once.
– A camper or trailer can only be parked in your front yard for a two week period.
More information on this will be given soon.

Q – Will there be a way to get to Fort McMurray for those whose vehicle are there, or may not have one.
A – Yes, they are working with partners to make sure some sort of transportation will be in place to get people to and from Fort McMurray with their pets and 14 days worth of supplies if you chose to remain in town. More Information on this will be given prior to reentry.

Q – Is there a timeline for debris removal and the rebuilding of homes?
A – As of now they are only working on the reentry phase of Fort McMurray after it’s completed then the cleanup phase and rebuilding information will be given.

Q – Will there be more financial distribution to evacuees from the Red Cross?
A – So far the Red Cross has given out 45 million dollars in the form of email transfer. More assistance will be given during the reentry and recovery phase for the months and years coming on a case to case basis.

Q – Will the airport be open on June 1st?
A – No, the airport will be reopening to commercial traffic on June 10th, it continues to be used for firefighting purposes.

Q – Where can I get information to find out if my vehicle which was parked in front of my home got towed?
A – If your vehicle was in towed and got moved because it was in the way of fire crews, then call 780-743-5566.

Q – Are the rumors of a high amount of uranium in Fort McMurray especially the badly damaged areas like Beacon Hill and Abasand true?
A – These are just rumors, countless tests have been done to the soil and air all around Fort McMurray, the results of these tests will be finished within 48 hours.

Q – With only basic resources open in Fort McMurray for the voluntary reentry, will there be a limit on how much stuff people will be able to buy?
A – If you plan on returning and staying in Fort McMurray please bring a supply of everything you will need for 14 days. As for a limit on what people will be able to purchase from the stores that will be open this will be addressed in the reentry information to be given out before reentry begins.

Q – Will there be a checklist of things to look for with your insurance adjuster?
A – The reentry booklet given by the RMWB has checklists of what to do when you return home. As for specifics on what to look for in your home, contact your insurance company.

Q – Will there be taxi services or buses running in town during the voluntary reentry?
A – They are not essential services for reentry so will not be available on June 1st, however taxi companies will be allowed to start to operate as soon as they can when they return to town.

Q – For those who have lost their homes, will they be able to go and see if they can salvage anything before demolition begins?
A – Yes, after the hazard assessments are completed and hazards removed, there will be supervised entry to these badly damaged zones to look for anything you can find. For specific questions on areas or your own home please call 310-4455

Q – Will there be gas stations open in Fort McMurray for the voluntary reentry.
A – Yes, this is one of the criteria needed to be in place before reentry will be allowed, however there may only be limited fuel so you should bring some with you upon returning just in case.

Q – With the ATCO map showing which neighborhoods have natural gas, does it mean the gas is on in my home?
A – No, what this means is in the green areas natural gas has been restored. Upon reentry you will need to go online and fill out a registration form to let ATCO Gas know you have returned to your home and need a representative to come and turn on the gas to your home. They will then light all of your appliances and a safety check. Upon returning to the city you will be given an orange placard, place this in your front window and if an ATCO rep sees it they will restore your gas and do the checks, without you having necessarily registered beforehand.

Q – With the possibility of asbestos in old home that have burned down, will we need to wear hazmat suits to go into these neighbourhoods and look for anything left over from our home?
A – It is too early to tell because of all the test results to soil and air are not yet ready. However they will make sure you know exactly what kind of safety measures needed to be taken before you can enter these areas.

Q – Upon reentry and the cleaning of my home, will it be safe to leave my fridge sealed outside on the lawn with the wildlife in the area i.e. bears?
A – They are working with insurance companies to find out what the exact process is for removing fridges or freezers from your home. As for the bears, Fish and wildlife officers have been relocating bears from in the city, and waste management has removed all the garbage.

Q – Will there be air quality tests done inside of my home?
A – Contact your insurance provider to see if this will be done.

Q – Do I need to clean up my own smoke damage and stuff in my home?
A – Contact your insurance provider for specifics on cleanups.

Q – Will there be a specific time people can start going into town during reentry?
A – A final assessment will be done on May 31st to make sure all of the criteria is in place for the reentry date June 1st. During this final assessment a specific time for the reopening of Highway 63 will be given.

Q – Did the safety inspectors enter my home during the rapid assessment period?
A – No they did not; they only did an exterior assessment of your home.

Q – Will there be curb side pickup for damaged furniture?
A – Yes, there will a system in place for curb side pickup. Also the city dump will be waving all fees until the end of June.

Q – When will mail delivery be restored in Fort McMurray?
A – As soon as Canada Post offices are ready to open they will let you know.

Q – What qualifies me for the debit card from the Government of Alberta?
A – You’re eligible if you were forced to leave the Fort McMurray area because of wildfire and you were unable to return home for a minimum of 7 days because of:
– an evacuation order;
– an imminent health and safety threat(s), such as extreme air quality advisories, no access to water, no power, etc.; or
– a lack of reasonable transportation options to return home.

If you were evacuated from a work camp and were unable to return home for 7 days, or you incurred extraordinary personal expenses to return home, you may also be eligible.
You’re not eligible if you:
– are from a community that was not impacted;
– were not in or weren’t planning to return to the affected area during the evacuation period; or
– were in the community when the evacuation occurred but were able to return home within 7 days without incurring extraordinary personal cost.

The evacuation period lasts until the evacuation notice is lifted.

Q – Will we have to pay our municipal taxes at the end of June?
A – Information on this will be provided soon

Q – How will my insurance be affected with the voluntary reentry?
A – as the Mandatory evacuation order is still in place, these funds should still be available to you from your insurance provider, however you may have a limit of time you are covered for or a max amount. Contact your insurance provider for the exact details of your plan.

Q – Will veterinary services be available for the voluntary reentry?
A – Not for June 1st no, only essential retail stores will be open for reentry, it is not possible to give a specific date for the opening of vet clinics as it will take each one different amounts of time to do everything they need to be able to serve the public again

Q – How do I give money back to the Red Cross, whether it be over payment or the fact I do not need the 600$ payment?
A – Go to a local Red Cross office and a representative can help you with this.

Q – When will Peter Pond Mall be reopening?
A – June 1st they are allowed to return to town and assess damages and what is needed to be done along with a timeline for reopening.

Q – Will temporary housing be brought in for those who have lost their home or are unable to live in their home?
A – The Wood Buffalo Housing Development Corporation is working on a plan for interim housing for these people, more information will be provided as it’s available.

Q – When will insurance adjusters be able to enter the city to begin assessments?
A – They are working with the Insurance Bureau of Canada to get adjuster places to stay and to start accessing Fort McMurray to begin their assessments

Q – I deleted the pin number sent to me for to access my etransfer from the Red Cross, how do I get it again?
A – Contact Red Cross at 1-888-350-6070 to get your pin number.

Q – Will there be financial aid provided to get groceries and other essentials for the 14 day period if returning to Fort McMurray?
A – If you are planning to return to Fort McMurray make sure you know it will not be the same, only basic resources will be available. Contact 310-4455 to get information on getting the help you need.

Q – Will there be help with waste removal such as fridges and freezers, for those who are unable to do so themselves?
A – Yes, information on persons who can help will be available at the information centers set up around town.

If you are in need of mental health services please call health link Alberta at 8-1-1 or contact the mental health help line at 1-877-303-2642

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