Recovery efforts begin with businesses after major flooding in Fort McMurray

Rodiano Bonacci
Mag 4, 2020

"When you add the stress of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, it has certainly been a hard and challenging week for everyone in northern Alberta affected by flooding".

Officials said mandatory evacuation orders had been lifted for some areas of the city.

"I felt like I couldn't sit at home and scroll Facebook all day and look at everything in town that was flooded", she said.

"We were looking out from our house to see people who have carpet on their second floor that is definitely wet ... so we're counting ourselves as very fortunate", said Andrew Laidlaw.

More of the 13,000 residents forced out by flooding in Fort McMurray have been allowed to return to their homes, but an ice jam on the Peace River was threatening several other northern Alberta communities.

Pandemic or not, Kristy Laidlaw believes the people of Fort McMurray will be there for each other.

Officials have said the plan is to open businesses before allowing residents back to the community.

"Those conditions include floodwater no longer being an imminent threat, the availability of critical infrastructure and essential services and hazards in the area being secured", he said.

Evacuated Mackenzie County residents, same as those in Fort McMurray, are eligible for emergency cash payments of $1,250 per adult, the province announced Wednesday.

"It is just too much for some people to bear", he said. "We want to help our affected clients by offering support measures that meet their needs".

Mayor Scott said that he spoke with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and expressed the severity of the situation for residents.

"To start seeing those lineups again and then hearing helicopters overhead - it was a little all too familiar", she said.

One person died and almost 13,000 people in the Fort McMurray area were ordered to evacuate their homes, CBC reported.

Toner said she knew when she made a decision to volunteer that she would have access to protective equipment, because Fort McMurray is a "safety-conscious community".

"They're heavy things", she said.

"I think when you can not maintain the physical distancing, this is where those other measures come in as an absolute critical defense", said Dr. Craig Jenne, an infectious disease professor at the University of Calgary.

"We are still trying to do physical distancing", he said.

Davis said staff will still do everything they can to protect people from the spread of the virus. "There's never been anything like this - and that's combined with the COVID-19 challenges".

Jenne says volunteers will need to use hand sanitizer and wear masks while helping their neighbours recover from the flood.

- By Colette Derworiz in Edmonton, with files from Bob Weber. "But they were really more concerned about the people and the community than they were about the virus".

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