Gateway Gazette

Update 2: 2020 Spring Flooding

April 29, 5 p.m.

The province continues to support flood response efforts in Fort McMurray and Mackenzie County. States of local emergency remain in effect in both communities.

Ft Vermilion (photos by Daniel Williams, MLA Peace River)

Current situation

  • Flooding, due to ice jams on the Athabasca and Clearwater Rivers in Fort McMurray and the Peace River in Mackenzie County, has led to evacuation orders for some residents of Fort McMurray, Fort Vermilion, Little Red River Cree Nation and Tall Cree First Nation at Beaver Ranch.

Evacuation orders

  • The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo issued a mandatory evacuation order for the entire community of Draper, Longboat Landing, Waterways, Ptarmigan Trailer Park and the Taiga Nova Eco-Industrial Park, and the entire lower townsite of Fort McMurray, except for the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre and Grayling Terrace. Access to the lower townsite is closed.
    • Significant resources are being dedicated to berming and sandbagging the area surrounding the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre to mitigate flood risk. There is no threat to this area at this time.
  • Mackenzie County has issued a mandatory evacuation order for the residents within the Hamlet of Fort Vermilion that reside east of 50th Street, north of the golf course, River Road and Boreal Housing, and all of North Vermilion (Buttertown).
  • Tallcree First Nation at Beaver Ranch is impacted by flooding and is being evacuated at this time.
  • Little Red River Cree Nation issued an evacuation order on April 28 for Garden River. Members in Fox Lake and John D’Or Prairie are on an evacuation alert.
  • As of April 28 at 10 p.m.:
    • Approximately 13,000 people from Fort McMurray were evacuated to hotels, work camp facilities and private accommodations.
    • About 455 people were evacuated from Fort Vermilion to hotels in High Level and private accommodations.
    • Three people from the Tall Cree First Nation have been evacuated to a local hotel.
    • 800 people from Little Red River Cree Nation have been evacuated.

Information for evacuees

  • In Fort McMurray, registration centres have been established at the Oil Sands Discovery Centre and the Casman Centre. Drive-through registration is offered to support physical distancing guidelines.
  • Members of the public who are not already registered can
    report to the Casman Centre, at 110 Eymundson Rd., to register
    as evacuees.
  • The municipality is asking evacuees to register even if they are staying in private accommodation.
  • In Mackenzie County, residents should register by calling 780-927-3718.
  • Tallcree First Nation members are in direct contact with the Tribal Government.
  • Little Red River Cree Nation has established a reception centre at Garden River School.

Emergency evacuation payments

  • Residents of northern Alberta who were evacuated due to spring floods will receive funding of $1,250 per adult and $500 per dependent child.
  • Evacuees can apply for their emergency evacuation payments online beginning May 4, at noon. It can take up to 24 hours for funds to be e-transferred into bank accounts.
  • Information on the application process can be found at alberta.ca/emergency, starting May 4.

Road closures

  • Highway 63 remains open at this time.
  • Highway 88 has reopened to traffic in both directions.

Please visit 511.alberta.ca for the latest information.

Health-related information

  • At this time, health-care services in Fort McMurray and Mackenzie County remain operational and are available to serve residents when they need them.
  • AHS remains committed to supporting each community’s health-care needs.
  • AHS resources are available to help 24-7:
    • Call Health Link at 811.
    • Contact the Addiction Helpline at 1-866-332-2322.
    •  Contact the Mental Health Helpline at 1-877-303-2642.
    • For emergencies, call 911 or go directly to the emergency department.
  • The Northern Lights Regional Health Centre is operational and has not been affected by flooding at this time. Mandatory evacuation orders do not apply to the hospital, although areas around the facility are flooded.
  • AHS has transferred intensive care patients to other facilities as a proactive measure. AHS is prepared to send the remaining patients and long-term care residents to other facilities, but they will remain at Northern Lights Regional Health Centre as long as water levels remain stable. The facility is not experiencing any issues with staffing or supplies.

Gathering and physical distancing exemptions for Fort McMurray:

  • Due to the emergency flooding situation, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health has issued an exemption to the existing COVID-19 gathering restrictions and mandated physical distancing in outdoor spaces for the Fort McMurray area.
  • Personal protective equipment, including masks, gloves, coveralls and hand sanitizer is in the process of being sent to both Fort McMurray and Fort Vermillion.
  • The safety of Albertans is our top priority and during emergency situations, communities need the ability to quickly and collectively respond as a community.

Drinking water and wastewater facilities

  • Fort McMurray’s wastewater treatment plant has been evacuated, as the access road is flooded. It remains operational and is being monitored and operated remotely.
  • Due to reports of discoloration in tap water, Fort McMurray and Alberta Health Services have issued a boil water advisory for all of Fort McMurray, and rural hamlets of Anzac, Draper, Gregoire Lake Estates, Fort McMurray First Nation 46 and Saprae Creek Estates.
  • Fort Vermilion’s water treatment plant shut down on April 28.
  • A boil water advisory remains in effect for Fort Vermilion.
  • The raw and treated water truck fill station in the Hamlet of La Crete and the Buffalo Head Prairie truck fill station are closed until further notice. Water is currently being hauled from the La Crete distribution line in order to meet water demands within the Hamlet of Fort Vermilion.
  • The Fort Vermilion rural truck fill is now closed until further notice, as the water treatment plant has been compromised by rising floodwaters.

River conditions – Athabasca and Clearwater Rivers

  • There are more open sections on the Clearwater River since April 28. Levels have been decreasing along the river at Fort McMurray.
  • Ice along the Clearwater River appears to be breaking up.
  • There is further deterioration of the ice along the Athabasca River.
  • On the Athabasca River, four kilometres of ice at the head of the ice jam melted through the night. The melting of the ice jam head will continue today. By the end of the day we expect the head will have passed through the community, leaving open water behind it. However, water levels will remain high until the ice moves further downstream.
  • Water levels have dropped half a metre at the Highway 63 bridge gauge since the evening of April 28.
  • If the ice at the toe of the jam releases, water levels may increase as it moves downstream.

River conditions – Peace River

  • The jam moved downstream April 28 at noon. Water levels have dropped more than two metres in Fort Vermilion.
  • The breaking ice front is downstream of the Vermilion Chutes. Flooding is expected in Garden River later this afternoon.
  • Water levels are expected to drop below the flood thresholds in Fort Vermilion today.

Access to justice

  • Due to flooding, the Fort McMurray courthouse is closed until further notice.
  • All matters that were to be heard there from April 28 to May 1 will be heard at St. Albert provincial court.
  • For questions, contact St. Albert provincial court at 780-458-7305 or the contact centre at 1-855-738-4747.
  • Information on the status of court matters and services is available at albertacourts.ca.

How Albertans can help

While no flood-specific campaigns are currently underway, Albertans can make donations to humanitarian organizations that are assisting in flood-impacted communities.

Red Cross:  Online or at 1-800-418-1111

Salvation Army: Online or at 1-800-725-2769.

Albertans who live in affected areas should look for updates from their local government regarding evacuations and closures and download the Alberta Emergency Alert app. For the latest information on river conditions, visit rivers.alberta.ca or download the Alberta Rivers app.

Related information

Related Articles

Leave a Reply