by Morinville News Staff
The province announced Wednesday afternoon a voluntary, phased re-entry for the safe return of Fort McMurray residents that will begin June 1 provided future wildfire conditions do not delay restoration efforts.
They are expecting reentry to be complete by June 15, coinciding with the full restoration of the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre.
Area schools closed during the evacuation will not conduct formal classes until September.
The province says residents whose homes were lost to the fire will have the opportunity to inspect their property and collect any surviving items before cleanup begins.
“Many hazards remain in Fort McMurrary. We need to address them before it’s safe for residents to return home. We’ve developed a phased and voluntary re-entry plan with the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo that begins with the least damaged areas,” said Premier Rachel Notley in a release Wednesday afternoon.
Brian Jean, MLA, Fort McMurray-Conklin who lost his home in the fires thanked the Premier for the efforts.
“I want to thank both the Premier and the Minister for working and consulting with us on a timetable for re-entry,” Jean said. “Safety remains paramount before we can return home, but today’s announcement will bring comfort to all evacuees looking to start rebuilding their lives.”
Five key conditions must be met for residents to return:
1/ Wildfire is no longer an imminent threat
2/ Critical infrastructure to support essential services is repaired and restored to provide a basic service level.
3/ Essential services are restored to basic level, including:
Emergency Services (Fire, EMS, Police, 911)
Open, safe transportation to, and within, the community (includes traffic controls)
Access to emergency medical care and patient transport
Access to potable water, electricity and gas
Access to food, pharmaceuticals, banks and other essentials
Access to mental health supports
4/ Hazardous areas are secure
5/ Local government is re-established
Resident reentry will occur by zone number to allow for efficient and safe traffic flow up Highway 63.
The government says phased re-entry also ensures that limited services will be available to residents.
Residents with the following medical conditions or situations should not return to the community until the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre is fully operational:
A chronic or acute medical condition, such as asthma
Anyone requiring regular primary care, specialist care, laboratory or diagnostic services
Anyone requiring counselling or mental-health services
Anyone more than 36 weeks pregnant or with a high-risk pregnancy
Anyone receiving cancer treatment, dialysis or other specialized medical services
Anyone requiring home care, home oxygen or home health supports
Anyone recently discharged from hospital or who has had a transplant