Update 5: 2020 Spring Flooding

May 2 at 5:45 p.m.

The province continues to support flood response efforts in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo and Mackenzie County. Parts of Fort McMurray have reopened.

Alberta Red Cross volunteers with clean-up kits in Fort McMurray

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 at Garden River and Tall Cree First Nation at Beaver Ranch.
  • The ice jam on the Athabasca River released on May 1; water levels have returned to pre-event conditions.
  • Ice runs continue on the Clearwater River. Water levels continue to decrease at the downtown Fort McMurray gauge as of this morning.
  • If jams along the Clearwater River release, residents may see an increase in water levels; however, the River Forecast Centre does not expect additional flooding to occur.
  • The ice jam on the Peace River near Garden River released on May 1.

Evacuation orders

  • In the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, the mandatory evacuation order remains in place for the community of Draper; all other areas previously under order were allowed to return home yesterday. However, utilities may not be restored until Monday.
  • Returning residents are being issued bottled water.
  • 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).
  • Little Red River Cree Nation issued an evacuation order on April 28 for Garden River.
  • As of April 28:
    • Approximately 700 people on the Little Red River Cree Nation have been evacuated.
    • About 455 people were evacuated from Fort Vermilion to hotels in High Level and private accommodations.

Information for evacuees

  • The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo is asking evacuees to register directly with the Canadian Red Cross by calling 1-800-863-6582 (between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. MT) in order to receive information on further assistance and support programs.
  • Canada Post has suspended all mail delivery to Fort McMurray. Residents can visit the link or call 1-866-607-6301 for updates.
  • Evacuees needing pet supplies are asked to contact the Fort McMurray SPCA at 780-742-8997.
  • 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 John D’Or 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 24-48 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.

Education-related information

  • Two schools in Fort McMurray (Fort McMurray Composite High School and Father Turcotte School) and at least one school in Fort Vermilion (St. Mary’s Elementary School) are reportedly affected by floodwaters.
  • Damage will be assessed once floodwaters recede.

Health-related information

  • At this time, health-care services in Fort McMurray and Mackenzie County remain operational and are available to serve residents.
  • 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.
  • Fort McMurray’s Northern Lights Regional Healthcare Centre remains operational and available to serve residents.
  • Dialysis patients continue to receive treatment in Lac La Biche and Edmonton until dialysis services resume at the hospital.
  • AHS continues to support Mackenzie County during planning for phased re-entry and the resumption of regular services in Fort Vermillion.
  • AHS services at the Casman Centre have been discontinued with the demobilization of this congregate living centre. All clients whose screenings have shown potential COVID-19 exposure have been moved to hotel accommodations, where they will continue to self-isolate.

Drinking water and wastewater facilities

  • Boil water advisories remain in place for all of Fort McMurray, Fort Vermilion and rural hamlets of Anzac, Draper, Gregoire Lake Estates, and Saprae Creek Estates.

Flooding impacts

  • Damage assessments have begun within the impacted communities.
  • 203 structures were impacted in Fort Vermillion; assessment has concluded.
  • In the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, assessment is ongoing, So far, approximately 1230 structures have been impacted.
  • Local roads are damaged on Little Red River Cree Nation; there are no reports of damage to structures.

River conditions – Athabasca and Clearwater Rivers

  • From its peak, water levels have dropped almost eight metres at the Athabasca River gauge near the Highway 63 bridge.
  • Aerial observations confirm that ice in the jam has started to melt at the mouth of the Clearwater River.
  • An area of open water has appeared along the ice that had previously plugged the mouth of the Clearwater River.
  • A second ice jam remains on the Clearwater River upstream Fort McMurray at Draper.
  • The River Forecast Centre is not expecting flooding as a result of this ice moving downstream on either river.

River conditions – Peace River

  • The ice jam near Garden River released yesterday.
  • Barring a re-jam, the ice is expected to reach the Peace-Athabasca Delta today; there is a potential for flooding to occur.

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 4 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 at www.redcross.ca/in-your-community/alberta or at 1-800-418-1111
Salvation Army: Online at https://secure.salvationarmy.ca/registrant/DonationPage.aspx or at 1-800-725-2769.
Samaritan’s Purse: Online at https://www.samaritanspurse.ca/article/samaritans-purse-offering-physical-spiritual-aid-to-northern-alberta-flood-victims/

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.

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