Right now there is a serious emergency situation going in Fort McMurray and the surrounding area. The river has broken its banks and caused unprecedented flooding leading to a full scale evacuation across many regions.

According to the Edmonton news, the flood was caused by an ice jam in the Athabasca River. Stretching for 25 kilometres upstream, the ice created a natural dam around the piers of the three bridges that span the Athabasca River in Fort McMurray, causing the river to rise in hours leading to serious flooding in downtown Fort McMurray.

According to Mayor Don Scott, this situation is hard to manage and even harder to predict. There was a plan to blow the ice dam up with explosives. But the sheer size of the ice dam could cause this to make the flooding even worse and even more unpredictable. Other solutions and ideas have also been suggested and discounted.

At the time of writing, the only solution seems to be to leave it to nature. The warmer weather has caused 4 kilometres of the ice jam to melt away over night and water levels are beginning to drop within the jam. Once the river has begun to move again, the flooding and the water level should begin to drop naturally but it seems likely that there is a long way to go until this happens.

For Alberta residents of Fort McMurray, the emergency is serious. Over 13,000 people have been evacuated from their homes already and forced into temporary emergency accommodation.

If you are living in an area affected by the flooding and have nowhere else to go, you need to register as soon as possible with the Red Cross as an evacuee by calling 1-800-863-6582 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. MST.

Evacuees can apply for an emergency evacuation payment online, starting from May the 4th. For more information on this funding, visit the Government of Alberta’s website. All evacuees are advised to report to the registration centre situated at Casman Centre 110 Eymundson Road.

If you do have somewhere else to go in the meantime and do not need immediate support, you are asked to delay your registration for a few days in order to help the Red Cross and the authorities manage the volume of requests.

It is important to stay informed as the situation develops. Make sure you keep up-to-date with the emergency via the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo website. There is a public live stream meeting being hosted on Thursday, April 30 at 5:50 p.m. MST to keep everyone up-to-date with the current situation and there are likely to be more of these in the near future.

To register for participation you are advised to contact the town hall via email at townhall@rmwb.ca or by phone on 1-800-214-2540.

Although the river break up and flood situation is extremely serious it is equally important to remember that the Covid-19 pandemic has not gone away, so even under this emergency situation it is crucially important to maintain social distancing in order to stay safe.

Our prayers and wishes go out to all those affected during these challenging times.

– Blueprint Condominium Management Inc