Phased re-entry into Slave Lake and area starts today
Essential services allowed to enter town first
Slave Lake... The Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) in the Town of Slave Lake has determined that critical safety criteria have been met and a phased re-entry into the community can commence.
A four-phase plan has been developed to ensure a safe and orderly return of evacuees to the community. The plan was endorsed by the Town of Slave Lake, the Municipal District of Lesser Slave River and the Government of Alberta and included input from the Sawridge First Nation.
Phase 1 of the re-entry plan was to ensure critical infrastructure was in place. This is complete and the following criteria have been met:
- There is no longer a threat of wildfires re-starting in Slave Lake, Sawridge or the Municipal District of Lesser Slave River;
- Power is fully restored;
- Natural gas service is restored in areas that were not damaged by the fire;
- Phone service is restored to all areas not damaged by the fire. Free cell phones will be provided to residents and businesses in the damaged areas;
- Protective services are in place - fire, EMS and police; and
- Water services are restored. A boil water advisory is still in effect.
With this work complete, the EOC has determined it is safe to move forward with Phase 2 of the plan which allows for essential service workers and their families to return home. Essential service workers include health care providers, utility personnel, protective and fire service personnel, local government and community officials. The EOC has begun contacting all identified essential service workers directly to inform them that it is important they return to the community immediately.
The state of local emergency remains in place. RCMP will continue to operate roadblocks and will turn back any person that is not cleared to enter.
“Thanks to the tireless efforts of more than 1,400 dedicated professionals, we are prepared to start allowing essential service staff and their families back into our community,” said Karina Pillay-Kinnee, Mayor of Slave Lake. “I must stress that we are still under a state of local emergency and this is not a general call for people to return to our community - we still have a tremendous amount of work to do between now and then.”
Having essential service personnel return to the community is imperative before the town and municipal district are ready to proceed with the final two phases of the re-entry plan:
Phase 3 - re-establishing regional key business components. This phase will see key business owners and workers of businesses that are undamaged return to the community. This phase will also allow businesses and workers to access the town temporarily and retrieve their business vehicles and/or tools if they work elsewhere and depend on this equipment for their livelihood. The EOC will directly contact the business owners to inform them when they can return to the community; and
Phase 4 - general re-entry of evacuees. This phase will commence on order issued by the EOC and will see the general re-entry of families. This will be supported by a traffic plan and additional information will be made available to residents prior to re-entry.
“I want to commend the evacuees for their patience,” added Denny Garratt, Reeve of the MD of Lesser Slave River. “Once all essential services are ready, we will start to allow key businesses to return home to ensure that we have a functioning community that is ready to support all displaced residents.”
“You cannot underestimate the level of detail and necessary checks that are needed to begin the re-entry process,” said Alberta Municipal Affairs Minister Hector Goudreau. “The phased-in approach allows us to ensure that the appropriate level of support is ready and available for the safe return of residents to their community.”
A copy of the Slave Lake Region Community Re-entry Plan is available online at http://www.wildfiresupport.alberta.ca/. Updates will be issued on the progress of the plan and posted to the site and hardcopies supplied to information and reception centre.