Fort McMurray likely to Request Federal and Provincial Support in Rebuilding Post-Flood

Written By Neil McKenzie-Sutter, Posted on June 30, 2020

After experiencing massive flooding starting in late April, Fort McMurray is taking stock of what they need to recover. Still, one thing seems inevitable: to heal, Fort Mac will need to receive outside help. 

“The Municipality can’t do this on their own, I don’t expect them to do it on their own,” Federal MP David Yurdiga for Fort McMurray-Cold Lake said in a recent interview with TNT.

Although there are no official timelines released yet, Yurdiga said he anticipates the council will make a formal request for financial aid from the Provincial and Federal governments to buy out damaged properties and/or invest in flood mitigation. 

“It’s probably needed,” Yurdiga said. “I think we should try to mitigate these [flooding] risks… I’m going to push for the federal government to have a conversation with the municipality to be part of the solution.”

When he talks about mitigation, Yurdiga is talking about flood mitigation specifically. Fort McMurray is no stranger to floods as it is built on top of a flood plain. However, the floods in 2020 were particularly harsh.

Fort McMurray has seen its fair share of disasters in recent years; the massive forest fires that made headlines for months in 2016 destroyed much of the city.

Fort McMurray and the rest of Canada have proven we can band together in times of crisis and support one another, and we’ll have to do so again this time. 

But even though the floods weren’t technically as damaging as the fires, the floods mostly affected the downtown, and Taiganova and Draper areas of the city, according to Yurdiga, many residents in these areas of the city did not have flood insurance, compounding the financial problems facing the city. 

‘COVID-19 wasn’t helping matters at all,” Yurdiga said in the interview. “Small businesses were shut down, it was very challenging for a lot of residents and Fort McMurray, and now we have the floods… any small businesses that were downtown, or were planning to reopen; those buildings are no longer there.”

As Yurdiga sees it, there are two clear pathways forward for Fort McMurray as the city enters fully into the recovery phase: one path is further flood mitigation. The second is a buyout of the damaged/destroyed properties, and Yurdiga appears to be leaning in that direction.

“If flood mitigation is not possible in some of these areas, I think the best way is for the governments to get together and relocate the residents whether by buying them out or starting new or whatever may be done because there’s only so many people can afford,” Yurdiga said.

“I think relocation is probably a good idea, but it’s up to each individual on what they wanna do, I mean I’m not gonna tell a person where to live and how to live their life, but if they wanna risk it, they’re on their own, but they’re on their own already.”

Neil McKenzie-Sutter

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