Premier Rachel Notley has issued the following statement regarding the re-entry plan for Fort McMurray:
“Almost two weeks ago, we established five conditions for the safe return of residents to Fort McMurray and other northern communities that were evacuated due to wildfire.
“Those criteria are:
- Wildfire is no longer an imminent threat to the community.
- Critical infrastructure is repaired to provide basic service.
- Essential services, such as fire, EMS, police and health care, are restored to a basic level.
- Hazardous areas are secure.
- Local government is re-established.
“We have been clear that the health and safety of residents always comes first, and that we would not proceed with re-entry if it was not safe to do so.
“I am pleased to report today that these conditions have been met, and voluntary phased re-entry will begin June 1 as planned, with the exception of the neighbourhoods of Abasand, Beacon Hill and Waterways, as outlined yesterday.
Conditions will be assessed daily and, if the situation changes, the re-entry schedule may be adjusted.
“Incredible progress has been made very quickly, and for that I would like to thank everyone who has worked tirelessly to make Fort McMurray safe and livable once again.
“Despite the significant work that has been done, the city today is not the city that residents left behind a month ago. A boil-water advisory remains in effect, some health-care services are not available, and many businesses will not be open.
“Seniors, children under seven, and other at-risk groups should exercise caution when deciding when to return. Anyone with a medical condition should not return until the hospital is fully operational.
“To residents choosing to return this week, I ask you to not go home without a plan. Bring food, water and any other supplies needed for the next two weeks.
“Take your time and travel safely. The highways will be busy, which is why it is so important to respect the phased re-entry plan. Please do not return until the designated date for your neighbourhood.
If you were living in a rental unit, please be sure to confirm with your landlord that your building is ready for re-occupation before returning to the city.
“Monitor air quality and take precautions to protect yourself. Follow the instructions in your re-entry information package, including proper clean-up procedures.
“Returning home may be the most stressful part of this situation, so please take care of yourself. There are mental-health supports available through the information centres or by calling Alberta’s mental-health help line.
“The strength of the people of Fort McMurray in the face of this adversity continues to impress me every single day. Thank you for your patience, your resilience and your willingness to stick together.
“There is still a long road ahead of us, and we will travel it together. Alberta continues to stand with you.”