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Fort McMurray residents cleaning up after flooding 4 years to the day after devastating fire

EDMONTON — Four years ago, Fort McMurray was hit by devastating wildfires. For many in the region, life still hasn’t gotten back to normal. Now, they’ve been hit by the worst flood in decades, during a pandemic.

The water has mostly receded, but many residents and business owners have returned to heartbreak.

Fort McMurray Mayor Don Scott described the damage to the home of RM of Wood Buffalo Councillor Jeff Peddle.

"His place was basically wiped out, his entire basement was destroyed. He had one of the nicest basements I’ve ever seen, and it‘s gutted."

Scott said it’s a similar story for many residents.

"It‘s heartbreaking, house after house, building after building has been affected by this."

More than 1,200 properties have been affected by the flood. Scott says some are still dealing with insurance claims from the 2016 fires, and many aren‘t insured for flood damage.

"Most insurance in this area and the rest of Alberta doesn‘t cover overland flooding, so there is very little coverage for that in Alberta, and they are very expensive premiums so the average person doesn‘t have access to that because it‘s simply unavailable."

Residents have come together to help each other clear out damaged properties, but Scott said the municipality’s ability to help them will depend on federal and provincial help.

"We cannot get through this without significant provincial help, and whatever federal help we can get. I spoke to Premier Kenney and the prime minister about this, we aren’t going to get through this without huge help."

The mayor estimates it will cost hundreds of millions of dollars to overcome the damage.

Canadians looking to help can donate to a Red Cross emergency relief fund set up for the community.

Residents who had to evacuate can start applying at noon Monday for provincial payments of $1,250 for each adult and $500 for dependent children.

The last mandatory evacuation order for the Garden Lane of the Draper area was lifted at 6 p.m. on Sunday. 

Permits, flood recovery packages and building plans 

The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo says its Planning and Development office will reopen on Monday.

for building plans, real property reports, titles and flood recovery packages.

Officials encourage residents and business owners to use online services first, but in-person guidance and permit applications will also be online from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Regular office hours of 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. will start Tuesday.

When visiting the office, visitors must wear a face mask. Masks will be provided for anyone who does not have one. Staff will also wear PPE and security will ensure appropriate physical distancing.

Anyone with a fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat or shortness of breath is asked not to visit the office.  

Street sweeping

The RM of Wood Buffalo will also start street sweeping in flood affected areas on Monday. Temporary no parking signs will be posted May 3 to indicate where the sweeping will happen. Residents are asked not to park in those areas until sweeping is completed. 

With files from CTV News Edmonton‘s Joey Slattery

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