Fort McMurray Residents Still Displaced for a Few More Weeks
Last Tuesday afternoon, residents of Fort McMurray were evacuated by wildfires that were fuelled by strong winds. This fire cut the main road through Fort McMurray which sent 80,000 people fleeing for safety. Southern evacuees sought refuge at an Edmonton main reception center, or hotels, campgrounds, or stayed with friends. Of the 25,000 people forced to flee north, they have now been brought to the south to safety.
Extent of the Damage
The fire has been estimated to have damaged 2,400 structures which are mostly homes burned in the south and southwest parts of the city located 435 km northeast of Edmonton.
Officials report that even though the fire has pushed through Fort McMurray, the town is still too dangerous to enter. Many of the buildings are said to lack essential services, and large areas have no power, water and gas. Provincial officials say that evacuees would be better driving to cities like Calgary where health and social services are better.
According to the Globe and Mail, a Bank of Montreal analyst estimated losses to exceed $9 billion.
On Tuesday, repair crews are expected to examine the damage in Fort McMurray. Alberta Premier, Rachel Notley reports that crews will need to work for weeks to ensure the city is safe. It will take two weeks to form a schedule for Fort McMurray and area residents to safely return to their homes.
Currently, Canadian insurer Intact Financial Corporation is assessing damages, and has referred to it as “the costiliest disaster“.
To further complicate matters, a stomach virus also broke out effecting dozens of Fort McMurray evacuees. Over the weekend, 40-50 cases had been reported of viral gastroenteritis.
On a brighter note, nearly 90% of Fort McMurray is still intact, although 2,400 structures have been lost. Hospital, municiple buildings and schools were saved.
Temperatures are expected to become cooler until Thursday according to reports from Environment Canada which will help firefighters to handle the blaze. However, Alberta fire officials still claim that the fire will take months to fully extinguish.
So far, Alberta has received help from Ottawa. Air vehicles, 7,000 cots for evacuees located in emergency shelters with an additional 13,000 on the way, and a promise from the federal governmnet to match individual donations are all underway to help in this situation.
The province of Alberta has provided debit cards which will help evacuees with expenses related to food and shelter. Adults will recieve $1,250 each and dependents will receive $500. The cost to the province is estimated to be $100 million.
Assistance from the B.C. governments in terms of sending firefighters has been revoked due to ongoing wildfires in the B.C. region. However, they are sending 30 health-care personnel, mobile medical units are ready to go to Alberta if needed, and Emergency Management B.C. is ready to offer emergency evacuation staff and experts.
It was reported on Friday that $30 million was donated to the Red Cross including a $300,000 donation from the B.C. government.Click here for reuse options!
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