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Municipal Emergency Management Team prepares for River Breakup 2020


(Fort McMurray, AB – April 9, 2020) – While the Municipal Emergency Management Team remains focused on the municipal response to Covid-19, the annual preparedness and planning is also underway for river breakup 2020.

Each year the ice in the Athabasca and Clearwater Rivers breaks up, jams and rises, creating a flood hazard around Fort McMurray’s Lower Townsite and Waterways. Though the river may appear to be free of ice, river breakup will not be officially declared until the threat of flooding from ice jams further downriver is no longer present.

“We encourage residents to educate themselves on river breakup in the region,” says Chris Graham, Assistant Deputy Chief of Emergency Management at the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. “Emergency preparedness is important during River Breakup and there are small steps we all can take to be prepared.”

Residents can prepare by creating an individual or family 72-hour emergency kits and know their evacuation route in the event of flooding in the lower townsite.

River banks are dangerous this time of year and should be avoided, both before river breakup is declared and after. Residents are also reminded that stopping a vehicle on the Athabasca bridge to watch is not permitted. 

As a safety precaution, Silin Forest Road with access to the Municipal Water Treatment Plant will be closed to the public until May 20, 2020.

To watch the River Breakup livestream or for information on what you can do to prepare yourself and your family, visit www.rmwb.ca/riverbreakup.

FLOOD RECOVERY: Information and resources