Government report details Fort McMurray wildfire response, looks ahead to recovery

Government report details Fort McMurray wildfire response, looks ahead to recovery

04 November 2016

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Canada—  Six months after the devastating wildfire ripped through Fort McMurray, the community is yet to recover, but Municipal Affairs Minister Danielle Larivee says progress is being made.

While the community will never be what it once was, she said Thursday, what the government can and will do is assist the community to heal.

Larivee tabled a six-month update report in the legislature on Thursday, which detailed the fire, the resources thrown at the vicious blaze, the evacuation, donations, government supports and the gradual re-entry into the city.

It also examined what’s ahead in terms of the region’s recovery.

Over the next few years, enhanced air, soil, and water monitoring will continue to track the long-term effects of the wildfire in the city and communities downstream, and a series of reports has been commissioned to identify lessons learned from the response and early recovery efforts.

An external contractor is also reviewing the government’s preparation for the 2016 wildfire season.

The report, called Home Again, was a way to aggregate all the information out there — dollars spent, response reviews, input from the insurance sector, where donations came from and where they went, and where the province’s FireSmart program goes from here.

“It was also to remind the people of the rural municipality that they are very real to us,” Larivee said after tabling the report.

“We have not forgotten them.”

When government help for the post-fire rebuild was raised in question period Thursday, though, Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo Wildrose MLA Tany Yao shook his head.

“It’s not enough,” he burst out at one point.

In a statement, his party said Fort McMurray has come far over the past six months, but there’s still work to do.

“Wildrose is focused on ensuring transparency and fairness during the rebuilding process in the allocation of donated funds, and for those navigating the insurance process,” the statement read.

Larivee agreed that the rebuild will take time, because a disaster of the scale that hit Fort McMurray “takes a tremendous toll on a community.”

“It’s been over five years, and we’re still facing challenges in Slave Lake,” she said.

“Rebuilding the community will be a priority for a long time to come.”

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