McMurrayites planning on early re-entry should be bringing more than meds and groceries.
In a conference call Thursday afternoon, Emergency Management Director Bob Couture said that they’re asking residents to be self-sufficient with early re-entry.
“Be prepared prior to coming in,” Couture said. “Be self-sufficient when it comes to the air quality health index.”
Couture did say that they are attempting to be “flexible” when it comes to the needs of the community, and are working to be able to adjust to those needs as they arise.
He noted that the supplies to be provided to residents are outlined in the re-entry booklet published by the RMWB. In that document, it notes that one N95 respirator mask will be distributed to each household free of charge.
Couture said that if family units decide they want to return to Fort McMurray in the early re-entry, they’ll have to make “informed decisions” on the air quality index and what their family needs are. Those needs could include the purchase of additional respirator masks.
The AQHI has been fluctuating in Fort McMurray depending on wind direction. As of 6 p.m. Thursday evening, it sat at a pristine 1. Some days this week the smoke had caused that number to spike beyond 20 on the scale that normally runs from 1-10.
Mayor Melissa Blake reminded reporters that one of the conditions of the June 1 re-entry is that air quality cannot be harmful to human health. She noted that some segments of the population including children, asthmatics, and the elderly, have increased “sensitivities” to the AQHI.
“We’re not recommending that these folks be slated for early re-entry,” Blake said. “But they are eligible if their family so chooses.”
Blake added that the N95 respirators are disposable units, and those coming up alone should also be looking at purchasing back-up units.
The mayor has already made the decision to commute to work until the boil water advisory is lifted to protect her family.
Re-entry is currently slated to begin June 1.