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RMWB Wildfire Recovery Information

A new Progress Report has been issued on work completed to date to allow the safe re-occupation of standing homes in Abasand and Beacon Hill.

This Report comes on the heels of the Canadian Red Cross announcement of $299 million in donations to support residents of Wood Buffalo, collected from individuals across Canada, as well as the federal and provincial governments.

Following the wildfire, the Municipality led a massive effort that quickly allowed for the installation of over 64 kilometers of safety fencing and additional layers of tackifier following a successful sifting program.

Municipal staff have made significant progress flushing and cleaning the water distribution network in Abasand and Beacon Hill. Flushing is nearly complete, at which point bacteria testing will confirm the potability of water in those areas.

To date, a total of 732 Demolition Permit applications have been received and 419 permits have been issued, including homes in the restricted areas. 310 of these outstanding permit applications were received over the August long weekend. There have been 51 post-demolition inspections.

As work is underway to secure Abasand and Beacon Hill for a safe re-occupation of Phase One standing homes, the Municipality is working with Alberta Health Services (AHS), the Government of Alberta (GOA) and the Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) to develop a robust safety mitigation plan for residents. Standing homes in these areas have been divided into a first and second phase, with the first phase being those homes which are farther away from the debris field.

“We have been working tirelessly with the Chief Medical Officer of Health to fine-tune the safety measures in Abasand and Beacon Hill, as part of the Green Homes Plan,” explained Chris Graham, Deputy Director of Emergency Management. “We are confident that residents in the first phase of standing homes will be able to return to those affected areas five to seven days after the CMOH signs off on the Plan.”

The Green Homes Plan includes details on re-entry, including what Abasand and Beacon Hill residents can expect upon return. Information centres will be set up in both areas to provide support and information. In addition, Council has waived landfill tipping fees until October 31, 2016, to help residents with efficient waste removal. The bagster service will be available through the PULSE Line.

“In developing the Green Home Plan, we held tours with local stakeholders to demonstrate mitigation measures established since the CMOH’s original recommendations,” said Erin O’Neill, Recovery Branch Lead. “Local medical health officers, members of Alberta Health Services, local school board representatives, industry partners, clergy, members of the Government of Alberta Wildfire Recovery Task Force and the Municipality observed the success of the tackified areas adjacent to damaged homes, fortified fencing, specific demolition haul routes and controlled access plans, to name a few of the measures that have been taken.”

The Municipality and the Government of Alberta are continuing to investigate what potential measures are required to safely re-occupy Waterways. Safety continues to be top priority for the Municipality, necessitating deeper study of the risks associated with rebuilding in the Waterways flood plain.

A further Progress Report will be issued on Thursday, August 11.

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