Gateway Gazette

Update 8: 2020 Spring Flooding

May 5 at 7 p.m.

The evacuation alert has been lifted and residents in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo and Mackenzie County are returning home. The province continues to support about 4,200 Albertans unable to return home.

*Situation updates will be issued as necessary going forward. Albertans are encouraged to check Alberta.ca for updates.

Volunteers are the backbone of our community – RM of Wood Buffalo

Current situation

  • Water levels are receding and communities are shifting their focus to re-entry and cleanup.
  • Water levels at Fort Vermilion and Beaver Ranch have returned to pre-breakup levels.
  • Water levels on the Peace River remain high and ice jam flooding may occur as the Peace River continues to break up into the Peace-Athabasca Delta.
  • The ice jam warning for the Lower Peace River Garden River to the Peace-Athabasca Delta has been downgraded to an ice jam watch.
  • The ice cover on the Peace River remains in place along the lower reaches near the Peace-Athabasca Delta, with a short ice jam near Burnt Thumb.
  • Water levels remain high in and around the Paddle River.

Evacuation orders

  • In the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, all mandatory evacuation orders were lifted May 3, including Garden Lane in Draper.
  • Some homes are too damaged for people to return to and they are remaining in hotels.
    • About 3,028 people remain displaced at this time.
  • All mandatory evacuation orders for Mackenzie County were lifted on May 4.
  • Residents may return home if they choose. If their homes are too damaged, they can stay in their current accommodations.
    • About 505 people were evacuated from Fort Vermilion, Buttertown and Beaver Ranch
  • Little Red River Cree Nation may amend their evacuation order depending on re-entry planning.
    • About 750 people in Garden River (Little Red River Cree Nation) remain evacuated.

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.
  • Evacuees needing pet supplies are asked to contact the Fort McMurray SPCA at 780-743-8997.
  • In Mackenzie County, residents should register by calling 780-927-3718.
  • Little Red River Cree Nation has established a reception centre at John D’Or School.

Emergency evacuation payments

  • Evacuees can apply online for emergency evacuation payments (EEPs) for spring floods starting today at alberta.ca/emergency.
  • Residents of northern Alberta communities who are or were under a mandatory evacuation order due to floods are eligible. Eligible communities include Garden River, Fort McMurray, Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo and Mackenzie County, including Fort Vermilion, Buttertown and Rural Mackenzie County.
  • This impacts about 14,000 residents.
  • The estimated EEP expenditures to these evacuees will total more than $14.5 million.
  • As of 5 p.m. May 5, 4,929 evacuees have been paid $5.263 million in emergency funding.

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.
  • At-home instruction has resumed for public and Francophone schools.
  • Teachers with Fort McMurray Catholic schools returned to work on May 4, with at-home instruction resuming on May 6.
  • At-home instruction has continued in Fort Vermilion.

Health-related information

  • 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.
  • Regularly scheduled dialysis treatments at the health centre will resume on May 6 for 11 patients. Dialysis appointments have been secured in Edmonton for six additional patients.
  • COVID-19 testing is occurring at flood reception centres when appropriate.  
Thank you to volunteers

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 are complete for Fort Vermilion, Buttertown and Beaver Ranch in Mackenzie County.
  • In the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, some areas are without power and gas. ATCO is working to fix the issue.
  • The lift station is damaged and undergoing assessments in Little Red River Cree Nation.
    • Re-entry planning is conditional based on bridge inspections.
    • There are no reports of damaged homes.
  • An ice jam watch is still in place along the Athabasca River from Firebag River (65 kilometres north of Fort McKay) to the Peace-Athabasca Delta.

Access to justice

  • Due to flooding, the Fort McMurray courthouse is closed until further notice.
  • All matters that were to be heard will continue to 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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