(June 10, 2019) – As cooler weather continues to create favourable conditions for firefighting, Bigstone Cree Nation and Wabasca-Desmarais plan for re-entry.
*Next update will be released on Wednesday, June 12 unless the situation changes.*
On Wednesday, June 12, residents from Bigstone Cree Nation and Wabasca-Desmarais will join the more than 6,000 evacuees from the following communities who are returning to their communities:
- High Level
- Mackenzie County
- Dene Tha’ First Nation
- County of Northern Lights, south of Twin Lakes Campground including Notikewin
- Marten Beach (MD of Lesser Slave Lake)
- Keg River/Carcajou
- Peerless and Trout Lake communities
Residents in these communities remain on evacuation alert.
Evacuees can find tips on re-entry by visiting alberta.ca/emergency. Information includes making sure all your utilities are working to cleaning up, and how to deal with door-to-door salespeople offering services and insurance.
Approximately 4,400 evacuees are displaced due to mandatory evacuation orders for:
- Paddle Prairie Metis Settlement
- Bigstone Cree Nation (scheduled to return on June 12)
- Wabasca No. 166
- Parts of the MD of Opportunity No. 17
- Hamlet of Wabasca-Desmarais (scheduled to return on June 12)
- Hamlet of Sandy Lake
- Chipewyan Lake Village
- Approximately 3,500 people from Bigstone Cree Nation and the Hamlet of Wabasca-Desmarais will be able to return home on Wednesday, June 12.
- Chuckegg Creek wildfire, southwest of High Level, is about 265,925 hectares.
- Jackpot Creek wildfire, approximately 11 kilometres north of Lutose, is about 28,167 hectares.
- McMillan Wildfire Complex, southwest of Bigstone Cree Nation, is more than 259,539 hectares.
- Battle Wildfire Complex in Peace River is about 54,255 hectares.
- There are more than 2,000 wildland and structural firefighters and staff, approximately 150 helicopters and 22 air tankers and 241 pieces of heavy equipment on these fires.
- Check Alberta Emergency Alerts for more detailed and frequently updated information.
- People driving in fire-affected areas should carry enough fuel, as it may not be readily available.
- Be cautious of organizations not registered to solicit donations. For information on how you can help, visit alberta.ca/emergency.
Visit alberta.ca/emergency for detailed and frequently updated information.
- Parts of northwestern Alberta are under a special air quality statement, including High Level, Peace River and Wabasca.
- Visit FireSmoke Canada for information and resources about smoke from wildland fires.
- Evacuees should check alberta.ca/emergency for updates on evacuation payment eligibility.
- Evacuees in need of financial assistance for immediate needs can apply for an Income Support program emergency needs allowance. This benefit may cover your accommodation, clothing and other urgent needs. Please call 1-877-644-9992 for more information.
- You may qualify for the evacuation payment if you:
- were living, working or vacationing in the affected area
- were forced to leave due to an evacuation order
- paid for most of your costs to evacuate
- were forced to leave your residence (primary, working or vacationing) due to a mandatory evacuation order – current communities include:
- High Level
- Paddle Prairie Metis Settlement
- Bushe River
- Meander River
- Bigstone Cree Nation 166 A, B, C and D
- Sandy Lake
- Chipewyan Lake Village
- Keg River
- Northern border of the County of Northern Lights to Township Road 922 (Notikewin Road)
- Steen River
- Trout Lake
- Albertans who qualify will receive $1,250 and $500 for each dependent child under 18 living in the same home when the evacuation order was given.
- Application methods:
- Apply online through the MyAlberta Evacuation Payment application using a smartphone, device or desktop. Interac e-transfers may take 24 hours to process.
- All payment distribution centres are now closed.
- If you need help applying, contact Alberta Supports to find the nearest centre:
- More than 11,000 individuals have received evacuee support, and more than $11.3 million has been distributed.
Reception and call centres
- All evacuees should register with an evacuation reception centre, even if you’ve found alternate accommodations.
- Reception centres are assisting evacuees either in person and/or by phone:
- Evacuation reception centre hours can be found at alberta.ca/emergency.
- The Alberta government’s call centre 310-4455 will be closed on the weekend and will be open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- To stay informed on all road closures due to the wildfires, visit 511.Alberta.ca or download the mobile app.
- Most home and tenant insurance policies provide coverage for living expenses during an evacuation.
- Evacuees should retain all of their receipts for food, accommodation and other related expenses to provide to their insurer.
- Albertans can contact the Insurance Bureau of Canada at 1-844-227-5422 or by email at [email protected]. Information about insurance coverage is available online at ibc.ca/ab/disaster/alberta-wildfire.
Justice and legal matters
- Community Corrections and Release operations have resumed in High Level.
- High Level Court is open.
- Chateh Court matters will be heard in High Level Court until further notice. Call 780-926-3715 for inquiries.
- Fort Vermilion Court matters have resumed. Call 780-926-3715 for inquiries.
- Wabasca-Desmarais matters will continue to be held in High Prairie until further notice. Call the High Prairie Court at 780-523-6600 regarding any matters scheduled.
- The schools of Fort Vermilion School Division will remain closed for the remainder of the school year. Students wishing to write a diploma exam, Grade 6 or Grade 9 provincial achievement tests should make arrangements with the Fort Vermilion School Division. For further information visit: fvsd.ab.ca.
- School officials in fire-impacted areas will address the impacts of disruption on the academic program and school year. Students or their guardians should watch for online or direct communications from local school authorities about specific changes.
Provincial park closures
- All provincial parks temporarily closed due to the threat of fire, are reopened.
- Calling Lake Provincial Park campground is currently supporting evacuees. The boat launch to Calling Lake remains open.
- Current information about fire bans, restrictions and closures in provincial parks and campgrounds is available at AlbertaParks.ca.
Boil water advisory
- A boil water advisory is in place for Meander River (Dene Tha’ First Nation).
- Mental health support is available by calling Alberta’s 24-hour help line at 1-877-303-2642, the Addiction Helpline at 1-866-332-2322, or Health Link at 811.
- Wabasca-Desmarais Healthcare Centre is now open.
- The Northwest Health Centre in High Level is open.
- Alberta Health Services is providing enhanced addiction and mental health services to help residents in High Level following the evacuation.
- New, temporary walk-in services for individuals experiencing addiction and mental health concerns are available seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Mental Health Clinic at Northwest Health Centre in High Level. Scheduled visits with new and existing clients are open Monday, June 10, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more information, please call the clinic directly at 780-841-3229.
- Alberta Health Services has relocated acute patients and continuing care residents from La Crete and Fort Vermilion to health facilities in Edmonton and surrounding communities.
- The emergency department at St. Theresa General Hospital in Fort Vermilion remains open.
Pets and livestock
- High Level animal control has collected household pets that have been left behind. For questions regarding your pets, please call 780-926-2201.
- For evacuees in the Wabasca area, please fill out an online form on the Alberta Animal Disaster Response Facebook group, or text 403-869-4964 and provide your name, contact number, number of animals missing, where they were last seen, and a brief description of your pet.
- The County of Northern Lights will allow residents to enter property to look after livestock between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. Residents must first go to the county office to register for the temporary access pass.
Electricity and natural gas billing
- High Level and area residential, farm, irrigation and small commercial electricity and natural gas customers will not be billed for the period covered by the evacuation order.
Donations and volunteers
- High Level is not accepting donations or volunteers at this time.
- The Town of Slave Lake has set up an online form for offers.
- Check the Mackenzie County Facebook page for an up-to-date list of donations needed and drop-off locations.
- There have been reports that local residents in High Level are being solicited by email or phone for donations in support of firefighters or affected residents. Do not share your personal information with them or donate money.
- When asked for donations (either over the phone, through an e-mail, or in person), ask the canvasser for identification or printed information about the charity.
- If you have concerns about the activities of a charitable organization including its fundraising practices, call Service Alberta: 1-877-427-4088.
- Mail and parcel delivery in certain communities has been affected by the wildfires.
- Canada Post has contingency measures in place to serve residents of these communities.
- Check the Canada Post website for updates.
Income Support, Alberta Supports and AISH
- Evacuees receiving the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped or the Income Support program by cheque rather than electronic deposit can pick up their cheque at their nearest Alberta Supports Centres.
- If you are in La Crete, you can pick up your cheque at the local reception centre. If you receive your benefits via direct deposit, your payment will be deposited as usual.
- For information on child intervention and child care, call 1-800-638-0715.
- Persons with developmental disabilities, their families or contracted service providers can call the nearest Alberta Supports Centre for assistance.
- For additional information on social benefits, or to find a list of Alberta Supports Centres, call 1-877-644-9992 provincewide between 7:30 a.m. and 8 p.m., Monday to Friday.
- Employment insurance: evacuees can visit Service Canada online to apply at canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei. Use code 4812014812201900.
Health card, driver’s licences, ID cards, birth certificate
- To get a replacement Health Care Insurance Card call 780-427-1432 or toll free at 310-0000 and then 780-427-1432 when prompted. Your Alberta Personal Health Card can be mailed to a temporary address.
- If driver’s licences, identification cards, and/or birth certificates were left behind during the evacuation, replacement cards and certificates can be ordered free of charge at a registry agent.
- You can call 310-4455 for more information – Monday to Friday 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.