Fort McMurray wildfire update: housing benefit deadline, free camping remains

The province of Alberta says over 6,000 households have been helped by $5.9 million in emergency benefits following the Fort McMurray wildfires. A local state of emergency remains in effect in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB).

ATCO has restored power to 93 per cent of eligible buildings in the area, the province said.

Financial relief for evacuees who left the province has topped $3.7 million and over 48,000 debit cards have been handed out in Alberta totaling $96 million, according to an update released Wednesday.

Housing supports

The government reminded homeowners Wednesday the deadline to apply for the Wildfire Emergency Temporary Accommodation benefit is Aug. 2. Anyone with “immediate needs” is asked to book an appointment with the Canadian Red Cross at  1-888-553-5505.

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    Health care and boil water advisories

    According to the province, almost all health-care services have returned to full operations.

    Wednesday’s update said Abasand, Beacon Hill, Waterways and “any other municipally connected plumbing systems not mentioned in the boil-water advisory lift areas” remain under a boil water advisory.

    Read the latest advisory from Alberta Health Services

    Abandoned vehicle recovery

    The province provided vehicle recovery information and contact numbers for drivers and urged owners to claim their vehicles “in the near future” as unclaimed cars will be “subject to disposal.”

    Vehicles abandoned south of the Highway 63/881 junction have been towed to Highway 63 Towing & Recovery in Wandering River. Call 1-877-671-2717 to see if your vehicle is there and to make arrangements to retrieve it.Vehicles abandoned along Highway 63 (north of 881), along 811 or inside Fort McMurray have been towed to Mobster Towing in Fort McMurray. Call 780-838-9595 to confirm if your vehicle is there and to make arrangements to retrieve it.

    Camping ban lifted, free shelter available

    The random camping ban on public land in the RMWB has been lifted, the update said.

    Wildfire evacuees who still need a home can contact Alberta Parks which is offering free camping. Click here for more information.

    Collecting donations

    The province said there are ten pickup points for residents who need access to donations. Visit the Alberta Wildfire Donations Centre page for more information.

    Environmental monitoring results released

    The province said there will still be a final round of soil sampling in public areas after all the debris is cleaned up, but did release results and analysis of environmental monitoring, including air, water, soil and ash. Read those results here.

    Officials have also posted information on how to manage indoor air quality (cleaning, filtration, indoor air sampling suggestions) here.

    The province said more than 73,000 Fort McMurray residents have visited information centres since re-entry started June 1.