Monday, 11 September 2017

Taking pictures after a disaster strikes can help your community

What's in a picture? During a disaster, plenty. Mapping is a powerful tool that can help governments and their respective disaster management agencies respond to your community with the right recovery tools and teams. By taking pictures with your location feature turned on (GPS coordinates), your pictures can precisely pinpoint on a map where that image was taken. You can then add important confirmation details such as street name, which direction you are facing when taking the picture and any other relevant information such. An example would be a telephone - electricity power pole that is down. Face the direction of the pole, note its location and if power in your neighborhood is actually affected. Do you know if the power line is sparking, indicating a live wire. All of this information is fed into a central data center for analysis, which in turn helps in two ways.

Your neighbors can then see the same images and help them avoid any dangers that you have seen and helps the government plan recovery operations. The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency has implemented this capability into their FEMA Smartphone App. By taking pictures, you can then help everyone with these images that you have taken. When doing so, think about how you would use these images to navigate your way to and from your location. By taking your time (there is no need to rush and take just hundreds of pictures in 5 seconds), thinking about how you would use these images to get assistance, your contribution becomes important to your community and agencies trying to help you and your family. A good example is the picture of the telephone pole. Once you have taken that image, if it needed repair, are the main roads clear of debris? Which route would you recommend repair crews to take? Which one has the least amount of debris or obstructions? Are the roads flooded? Do you have an idea of how deep the water is? By taking this little bit of extra time to make notes, input these into the comments section of the FEMA App, you help first responders make choices in how to get to your family and community.

FEMA crowdsourced map - you can also see this map directly from the FEMA App on your phone.

If you have the time, coordinate with your neighbors and take important pictures that help make decisions such as several pictures of roads, intersections, important infrastructure such as schools, hospitals, highway on-ramps, bridges, etc. Take your time when doing so. They do not need to be super high resolution, but they do need sufficient detail to determine what conditions exist. While it is true that satellite imagery is often used during a disaster response, remember, if the weather is cloudy, rainy and strong winds exist, satellite images will not be available and nor will aircraft with reconnaissance  abilities be able to fly. Another important aspect is you. You are an expert in your community. You know your way around your neighborhood and understand where important safety issues could be barriers to response. Are there any ditches, recent road repairs that are not complete or where important infrastructure locations are. Your participation acts as an expert guide to others that will be responding that often have no direct experience with your neighborhood. The more helpful information you can supply, the safer and faster a response will be to your community.

Be proactive in your community by talking to your neighbors and plotting out where damage has occurred that is important that first responders know about. A picture of your backyard swimming pool is not that important. But where water pipes have broken, power poles, schools acting as shelters and hospitals have suffered major damage are vital.

Be active and think how you would help out when in need. That's the key to success when using modern smart phone technology. Make sure your location feature is turned on and take smart pictures and upload them if mobile service or Wi-Fi is available. Even if you have to wait to upload them at a local WiFi hotspot, it is worth the wait. Response agencies know the sacrifice and difficulties you may have to undergo to upload these pictures.

We have observed many of those affected by Hurricane Irma are uploading photos their communities that are damaged to Facebook Community groups. There are hundreds of these groups in addition to individual Facebook pages. FEMA and United Nations agencies do not have time to be members of all these community groups and must centralize their analysts that can help determine best courses of action to take in response to the disaster. By using a single application or web portal, the task becomes much simpler and faster to visual what has occurred and what response options should be considered. By taking pictures of important roads, arteries and other infrastructure, you help determine how best they can direct teams in the field and other agencies such as the UN, Coast Guard, Naval and Air assets. Do you live near the main airport? It isn't just the runway that is important, but the roads leading to and from its terminal. Do you know where normal everyday bottle necks exists? Pictures of these locations are vital to know in advance.

For those nations in the Caribbean that are not able to use FEMA, app, there is another way to plot your images onto a map for decision makers to leverage by using the Crowdsource ARCGIS map linked here - https://napsg.maps.arcgis.com/apps/StoryMapCrowdsource/index.html?appid=65f0dde429504c3cb07f0cae0f2c4be6

This link will remain active for as long as Hurricane Irma disaster recovery operations continue.

FEMA APP Link

ARCGIS map photos taken by locals. The dots indicate how many picture have been taken. On the right shows a description. But often they are not clearly identified or useful to first responders and recovery agencies. We need to help you take better pictures and assist  in any way possible for you to understand why it is important.

By participating, you help solve critical problems that occur during a disaster response. That's how we all can help heal and recovery faster.

How to turn on location service on an iPhone - https://support.apple.com/en-ca/HT207092

How to turn on location service on an Android device - https://support.google.com/accounts/answer/3467281?hl=en

How to turn on location service on a Samsung S5 phone - http://www.samsung.com/uk/support/skp/faq/1044567

How to turn on location service on a Galaxy device - http://www.samsung.com/us/support/answer/ANS00062037/


Sunday, 10 September 2017

Surviving and recovering Hurricane IRMA in regions of the Caribbean

Hurricane Katie (left), IRMA (center), Jose (right)
September 8, 2017


For those on all the island nations in the Caribbean basin, here are some tips and recommendations you might want to consider, given the challenges you are all presently facing. As a disaster recovery specialist having observed what is currently happening all across the Caribbean, there are some common themes on how best to cope and move forward that I'd like to share with you. These tips are in no specific order of priority.
1) Check in with your neighbors and family through any means possible by telephone, email, skype, etc.or walking to their known shelter or home.
2) Use the FEMA smartphone App for trusted updates on Government support services that will ramping up over the next week. The smart phone App works for Android and iPhone.
3) Double check your information with more than one source if it isn't from a government institution. Best news sources online are NBC, CBS, ABC, BBC and local affiliates to any of these organizations.
4) Limit your comments on posts in this community. It creates a very long scroll list for members to find information, which drains battery power on your smartphone - if that's your only information resource device.
5) Do not be alarmed by the news now focused on Florida. All Caribbean islands are being paid attention to by those that have the responsibility to respond - the Government. Media exposure maybe reduced, but not Government response.
6) Logistics takes time given the nature of this Hurricane. Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina and the east coast are the staging points for ships. They will have to deal with rough seas at slower speeds. European nations are flying in supplies and moving naval ships as fast as they can.
7) Airports are being repaired and will be active with relief flights of supplies as fast as humanly possible. But it still takes time and coordination. Hurricane Irma's aftermath of post storm activity will make things difficult as flights must depart farther away than normal given the fact that Florida is now not available as a staging point for flights. Do not expect commercial flights to return to regular service anytime soon given the damage that will likely happen in Florida.
8) The International Military community is responding. It may not appear that they are, but US Southern Command, US Coast Guard, Royal Navy, Royal Netherlands Navy assets are being deployed to the Caribbean. It takes time and there's nothing that can help speed it up than what is already being done. The Military is moving as fast as possible. The United Nations has deployed several organizations throughout the Caribbean to help support recovery efforts.
9) Take stock of your position and make a list of things you need. Ensure that you prioritize and be prepared to share those resources as best you can. It might be best to share in the cost of some important items if necessary as you make requests for resupply including fuel, generators, lights, batteries, water and hygiene products.
10) Work together and remain focused on the immediate tasks. While surveying where you live, make notes on paper or take pictures of your community and make sure you share with important information included to community leaders. This will help in determining how best recovery efforts can be managed and prioritized for everyone's safety.
11) Remain safe by being observant and aware of your family's whereabouts and what everyone is doing. Observe by thinking what the impact of the damage will be on recovery efforts. Examples include power lines, water pipes, types of debris, level of destruction, and access to your neighborhood and weaknesses that you see. Ask yourself, how would you go about recovery? That helps you determine what you need to do to remain safe and keep alive over the next several weeks and months ahead.
12) Without a doubt, remaining calm and reducing your stress level will be almost impossible keep in check. The best way to cope is to talk to your local friends and neighbors and help each other in person. Being online all the time will not help solve those issues. Work together and see what expertise and help you can contribute to each other. Doing so keeps you busy, productive and gives everyone a sense of how you can move forward in a positive light.
13) Resupply cannot solve everything. Tackling all the issues you are now faced with all at once, will not help either. Past disaster recovery experience shows that working towards recovery and rebuilding one step at a time is the best approach. Fully complete one task before moving onto the next one. It will solve a lot of complexity in how to move forward.
14) By engaging locally and in person, the better your sense of what will be required for your recovery will be. Engaging does not mean complaining about it to local public safety officials. It means asking questions, but that does not mean it should be a vector to vent your anger. Mother nature is a powerful destructive force when these storms occur. There's no agency in the world that can fix these problems overnight. Everyone wishes it could be done, but it can't. By asking questions and getting answers - as much as they may not be the answers you don't want to hear, understand what is being given as an answer. When a response given is "we don't know" or "I have no answer to that question", it simply means that they are being honest in that support options are limited by other factors out of their control. It does not mean they are not willing to help as mentioned in several points listed above.
15) The best thing you can do is remain positive and make goals on how best to recover. It will be hard and it will not be easy for all you. But it can be done and is an important part of your healing and recovery process. Every community in the Caribbean is going through this. It will be a international recovery effort and know, teams are preparing to help everyone as best they can.
If you have questions, try to ask them locally in your community. Those are the best places to get real answers that apply specifically to you and your family. If you still have challenges and concerns that you believe are not getting answers too, leave a detailed comment here and I will attempt to answer it.
You will all come out this hurricane stronger. That's the best way to think of this event despite the obvious rhetorical thoughts that suggest otherwise. Visit our Disaster Management portal to learn more about dealing with disasters.

Red Cross Check in and Registery
https://safeandwell.communityos.org/cms/index.php

FEMA App download 

https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Fort McMurray - Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo Fire Resource Page

Wildfire hits northern community of Ft. McMurray

Updated: 05-17-2016 07:03 MDT
Refresh your browser (Ctl+R) to get latest updates

All information listed below was valid at last update post time. Information contained below may expire at anytime. This resource page will remain as an archive of information.


As of 6:00 PM MDT, May 16, 2016, the wildfire continues to cause significant problems in the Fort McMurray region. A new series of voluntary evacuation orders has been issued by the Regional Municipality of Wood-Buffalo and Fort McMurray along with Fort Mackay. The majority of resources and information listed below were for use during the initial evacuations set out on May 3rd. The initial disaster has forced residence in the region to remain out of the area. We initially frooze this page on May 14th, believing this event had passed and risk of further damage to the municipality significantly reduced as all residence had successfully been evacuated. The oil sands industry had commenced restarting of large facilities north of Fort McMurray when high winds began to develop. As a result, we have reactivated this page and continue to monitor the area for further updates.

Wildfire with northerly heading winds on 05-16-2016 at 20:15 MDT Image recorded by DDRS using EOSDIS and MODIS Satellite imagery data published by the US Forestry Service.


A large wildfire has severely damaged and destroyed large portions of the region. An estimated 88,000 people have evacuated the region of Wood Buffalo - Fort McMurray. The following is a resource page for use by the general public. It is NOT an authorized page or official government source of information. It is based on confirmed and relevant information that can be used to further investigate the situation in the Fort McMurray area. Local State of Emergency was declared May 1st, 2016 at 10:00 AM local time.

This fire is probably the largest to hit a country since the Kelowna Fires of 2003. It's the second major fire since 2000 to destroy property in Alberta, the other being the 2011 Slave Lake fire. This fire has forced the second largest civilian population evacuation in Canadian history, since the Mississauga Chemical Train derailment in 1979 when 200,000+ people displaced.

To give perspective of the size of this wildfire engulfing Fort McMurray, it has burned an area the size of Chicago and Boston - combined. By 05-07-2016, this wildfire is expected to double in size exceeding 200,000 hectares. It is currently 204,000+ hectares as shown in Satellite images listed below.

This page will be updated regularly as is possible. Once the disaster is fully contained, a notice at the top and bottom of this page will state "No further updates"

If you have confirmed information that can be useful, tweet this information to us at @DDRSNGO or leave a comment below.

Under NO circumstances as a civilian or non-accredited Non-Governmental Organization should head towards Fort McMurray - Wood - Buffalo in an attempt to help others. You will be turned back by Public Safety Officials under the authority of the Province of Alberta's Emergency Management Act. There are reports on Facebook of announcements of good Samaritans heading towards the fire to help.

Transport Canada has tweeted a reminder, only with prior permission can UAV's or Drones be flown ANYWHERE a declared Wildfire location and State of Emergency exist. There are water Bomber and Spotter (Bird Dog) aircraft flying at VERY low altitudes above ground level in restricted air space.

We recommend if you are on Facebook with a Safety check in to assure friends and family that you are okay.

The Province of Alberta has put in place a temporary ban on all personal and civilian use of all off-road highway vehicles on public lands and trails including ATV's and recreational trucks. It does not include farm vehicles and First Nation's use of vehicles on their lands. 05-06-2016

By no means is this the only emergency evacuation currently in place in the Province. Two others exist including Alexis Sioux Nation and Glenevis areas in Lac St. Anne County in addition to Mackenzie County. It should also be noted, 40+ other wildfires are burning in the province with 1,110 firefighters, 145 helicopters, 138 pieces of heavy equipment and 22 air tankers fighting the fires. You can find additional information on these fires under Technical Resources farther down in this report.
  • Fort Mackay now under a voluntary evacuation order (05-07-2016 12:00 local time)
  • 18 new wildfires since May 1, 2016
  • 12 Fires held, 33 contained or under control, 7 managed locally
  • Total Fires burning in Province: 40
Affected areas nearby Fort McMurray include:
  • County of Lac Ste Anne Evacuation order has been lifted (23:00 Hrs - 05/05/2016 local time)
  • Evacuation Orders announced for the following Hamlets in the Wood Buffalo region:
    • Anzac
      • The fire has reached this area (05-06-2016 - 11:45 PM Local Time)
    • Gregoire
    • Stone Creek
    • Birchwood Trails
    • Fort McMurray First Nation
Image Courtesy of Google Disaster Response Team (c) 2016
Type of Disaster: Wildfire
Location: Fort McMurray - Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo
BBC published Before / After Satellite Imagery of Fort McMurray

Coordinates and list of Maps

  • 56° 43′ 35″ N, 111° 22′ 49″ W
  • GPS - 56.726389, -111.380278
  • Elevation: 260 Meters / 850'
  • Population: 68,000+ Regional: 88,000
  • Area: 59.89 sq. kilometers (23.12 sq miles)
  • Status of Fire: Not contained. Initially 5,000 Hectares and now over 165,000+ hectares (05-08-2016)
    • Winds overnight continue to fuel fire.
    • Overnight temperatures beginning to cool.
    • Sustained rainfall forecast is unknown.
    • Size of wildfire expanding eastward
      • Anzac (fire under control, but damage has occurred)
      • Gregoire Lake Estates
  • Fatalities: 2 (Highway 881 Evacuation Accident)
  • 2,400 structures destroyed or heavily damaged as of 05/07/2016. See Damage Assessment at bottom of page.
  • Conditions: Temperatures above normal by 15-30 Degrees Celsius during the day.
  • State of Emergency declared by Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation May 3, 2016.
  • State of Emergency Declared by Province of Alberta: May 5, 2016.
  • Areas affected: Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo - Fort McMurray including Beacon Hill, Abasand, Waterways, Draper, Saline Creek, Grayling Terrace, Downtown Fort McMurray, Thickwood, Timberlea, Dickinsfield, Wood Buffalo and Anzac
  • Weather Conditions and Forecast
Imagery Credit: NASA and U.S. Forest Service. Image recorded by DDRS using KML files made available May 4 2016
US Forestry Service in Cooperation with NASA EOSDIS Satellite Imagery
Recorded by DDRS May 5 2016 @ 16:00 Hours with KML Files imported into Google Earth
05-06-2016 
05-07-2016 11:30 MDT with updated data from NASA using VIIRS Satellite @NASANPP
05-07-2016 14:00 MDT NASA VIIRS Satellite Image
05-08-2016 09:30 MDT NASA VIIRS Satellite Image
Recorded by DDRS on 05-12-2016 06:30 MDT Note number of new hot spots has dropped significantly. Fire has not expanded significantly since 05-10-2016 Data supplied by NASA VIIRS Satellite. 
Infrastructure
City
  • Official Twitter account of RM of Wood Buffalo: @RMWoodBuffalo
  • Provincial Ministry Offices: Closed until further notice
  • City Wild Fire Updates
  • Utilities: 
    • Residential and commercial Gas service has been shut off. Twitter: @ATCOGas
    • Water Boiling Advisory in effect in all evacuation centers and camps including Fort McMurray.
    • Water Treatment plant: Operating (fire crews have contained fire surrounding it as of 08:00 05/05/2016)
    • Water mains and residential supply lines damaged throughout the city.
    • Electrical Power partially operating throughout the city.
    • See post fire assessment for additional information.

Schools

  • Public Schools
    • All Closed (all schools intact, no significant damage)
    • Evacuees that have arrived in Edmonton can enroll their children in temporary classes by simply going to nearest school to sign up and determine where children will be registered. The same applies to Catholic schools. 

Airport

All civilian and commercial flight crews should check for restricted NOTAM'S in the Fort McMurray and Fort Mackay area.
  • Fort McMurray Airport (YMM): Twitter: @FlyYMM
    • Closed to all Commercial Air Traffic
      • RCAF deployed Operation LENTus 16-01
        • 4 CH-146 Griffon Helicopters - Deployed
        • CH-47 Chinook - Deployed 
        • 1 CC-130J Hercules - Deployed
        • Airlift & Support Helicopters
      • Contracted civilian commercial aircraft have commenced evacuation of those who were trapped north of Fort McMurray after leaving the city. Departure Airport: Fort Mackay Airports (3)
      • Fort McMurray CYMM Webcam
      • Airport opens to military relief flights (05-10-2016)
    • See SITREP section below for additional updated Evacuation Information.
      • Fire heading towards Airport as of 17:30 local time May 5, 2016 - Fire Contained - No damage to runways.
      • Fire now burning on airport property as of 21:00 local time (05-05-2016) - Contained (05-06-2016)
      • New Airport facility is not damaged as of 08:30 05/05/2016.
      • Airport Fire Station damaged
      • Several structures on Old Airport Road are damaged.
      • Twitter: @FlyYMM
      • Fort McMurray Water Aerodrome Status unknown. (CES7)

Alternate Airports

  • Athabasca Airport (CYWM)
    • The Athabasca Regional Airport is a registered Aerodrome located approximately 1.5 km east of Athabasca on Hwy 55, and approximately 1.5 km north on Range Road 221. GPS coordinates for the airport are: 54°44′35″N 113°12′19″W
      • Runway 4,000 x 100 Asphalt (16/34) 1,971 MSL
  • Fort Mackay / Albian Aerodrome (CAL4)
  • Fort Mackay / Horizon Airport (CYNR)
      • 6,000 x 100 Asphalt (17/35)
  • Fort Mackay / Firebag Airport (CFG6)
  • Heliport: Anzac (Long Lake) Heliport (CN22)

Transportation

Healthcare 

Police

RCMP Fort McMurray Detachment #YmmFire Operations
  • Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment: 
    • 300 police officers deployed throughout the city augmented by other detachments from the province.
    • 911 service: operational
    • 105 Paquette Drive (780) 788-4000
    • RCMP Wood Buffalo
    • Twitter: @RCMPAlberta
  • RCMP to escort convoy leaving Ft. McMurray SOUTH on Highway 63. on May 6, 2016. Status: Underway (05-06-2016)

Fire Department 

  • Operational & deployed (780) 792-5500
  • EMS Services: Operational
    • Fire Hall 1 - 2 Tolen Drive, Ft. McMurray: Operational
    • Fire Hall 2 - Gregoire (911 Call Center)
    • Fire Hall 3 - 101 Cornwall Drive: Operational
    • Fire Hall 4 - 101 Paquette Drive: Status Unknown
    • Fire Hall 5 - 200 Airport Road: Operational
  • Curently with augmented resources, over 500 FF are deployed throughout the municipality and forests affected.

Roads & Highways

  • Highway 63
    • Northbound to city: Closed south of Highway 69
    • Southbound out of city: Open for evacuation
    • Northbound out of city: Open for evacuation
      • Some closures may exist near airport due to smoke
    • Southbound to city: Closed north of city limits at Parsons Creek Interchange
    • Highway Traffic Cameras Highway 63
    • Highway 881 is now under restricted access
      • Reopened after fatal car / truck accident
    • Twitter: Alberta Transportation @ABTransComm
    • Map of all Highways and conditions in Alberta
    • Highway #881: Temporarly CLOSED Until further notice (05-06-2016 AM) - Expired.

Communications

    • Telephone Services
      • Landlines Operating
      • Wireless - Mobile phones Operating including Internet and txt (Update: Cell Tower vulnerable to fire threat as of 08:30 05/05/2016 local time)
      • Internet Access Operating where available
    • Television: Remote services operating 
    • Local Newspaper Fort McMurray Today @FortMacToday
    • Radio 
      • CBC Radio: Operating but may go off air without notice
      • Radio Stations 
FrequencyCall signBrandingFormatOwnerNotes
91.1CKOS-FMKAOS 91.1ChristianKing’s Kids Promotions Outreach Ministries
93.3CJOK-FMCountry 93.3countryRogers Radio
94.5CFWE-FM-5CFWE Radio NetworkFirst Nationscommunity radioAboriginal Multimedia SocietyRebroadcasts CFWE-FM Edmonton.
96.7CKUA-FM-11CKUA Radio Networkpublic broadcastingCKUA Radio FoundationRebroadcasts CKUA-FM Edmonton.
97.9CKYX-FMRock 97.9active rockRogers Radio
99.3CBXN-FMCBC Radio Onepublic news/talkCanadian Broadcasting CorporationRebroadcasts CBX Edmonton.
100.5CHFT-FM100.5 Cruz FMclassic hitsHarvard Broadcasting
101.5CHFA-6-FMIci Radio-Canada Premièrepublic news/talkCanadian Broadcasting CorporationFrench; rebroadcasts CHFA Edmonton.
103.7CFVR-FMMix 103.7hot adult contemporaryHarvard Broadcasting

Software Applications for Smart Phones


Follow each link separately

Mail and Freight Services

 Emergency Services 

    • Alberta Red Cross - Twitter: @RedCrossAB
    • Evacuees should contact Red Cross at 1-888-350-6070 to register their location. It’s important to register to ensure officials know how to reach you and to verify you got out safely.
       
    • Edmonton Emergency Relief Services Society
      • Operating and collecting supplies
      • Distribution: TBA
    • Community Crowdsource Support Services YMMHELP.COM

Evacuation Centers & Shelters

    • Red Cross Alberta online Registration Page
    • If you are registering a family of over 8 people, please phone 1-888-350-6070. The Red Cross has opened additional call centers. 

      It is ESSENTIAL evacuees register with the Red Cross in order to receive Alberta Government assistance. Even if you have checked in with a evacuation center, the online registration data will then be transferred to the Government to disburse funds to those affected.
       
    • Fort McMurray Evacuation Resource Center
      • Little is known about who operates this resource
    • In anticipation of Fort McMurray evacuees arriving in Calgary, we are working with partner institutes to secure temporary shelter in Calgary for evacuees. A reception centre for Fort McMurray evacuees has been established at: Southern Alberta Institute of Technology Residence Tower 151 Doctor Carpenter Circle NW Calgary, Alberta T2M0L4
    • MacEwan University: The downtown Edmonton university will be opening its student residences on Wednesday for evacuees. It has 215 beds available starting Wednesday night. They have enough parking for 800 vehicles, including RVs and motor homes. Food services are also available.
    • Northlands has opened a shelter center at Rexall Place including space for RV Parking Edmonton Northlands, Halls A and D 7515 118 Ave NW GPS53.5680153,-113.4547537
    • Camps normally used for oil rig and tar sands mining have been converted into makeshift evacuation centers. Most are already full with limited supplies. (Evacuated 05-08/09-2016)
      • Evacuations from these Camps is in progress including those in Fort Mackay.
    • Mackenzie County (High Level) Town of High Level office 10511 - 103 Street, High Level 780-927-3718
    • The County of Lac La Biche has set up an evacuation centre at the Bold Center. Three-hundred camping stalls have also been set up, and additional rooms have been made available in surrounding hamlets. Those looking for accommodations in the area are asked to check in first at the Bold Center. GPS Coordinates:54.768876, -111.948362
    • A Volunteer Shelter Hosting service for those wanting to offer shelter to those in need has a Google Docs web form for those willing to help. 
    • Alberta Camping Ground Locations
    • Suncor Firebag Village (near Fort Mackay) Approximately 21km north of Fort McMurray Take Hwy 63 to Suncor exit, follow signs, staff will direct you to appropriate location. GPS Coordinates: 57.238621, -110.892721
    • Children's autism sevices is opening it's doors to welcome families from Fort Mac that have children with autism and the community. We will do what we can to support your immediate needs. An understanding environment for your family to be able to rest an take a much needed break. Please contact Candice Quinlan at (780) 913-1657 or tweet me at @QuinlanCandice
    • Town of Athabasca Reception Center - Athabasca Multiplex, #2 University Drive (780) 675-2967
    • Showers
    • All four YMCA locations in Edmonton are open to Wood Buffalo evacuees who can access drop-in facilities and showers, including;
      • Don Wheaton YMCA at 10211 102 Ave.
      • Jamie Platz YMA at 7121 178 St.
      • Castle Downs YMCA at 11510 153 Ave.
      • William Lutzky YMCA at 1975 111 St.
      • The Fraser Community League at 14720 21 St. is offering itself as a well-stocked relief centre for evacuees entering Edmonton from the northeast. Fort McMurray evacuees are invited to stop in for food, supplies and first aid while community league members are opening up their homes for showers.

Fuel

Transportation Alberta did send refueling tankers up and down Highway 63 during evacuation on the night of May 4th into the morning hours of May 5th for those motorist stranded when they ran out of fuel. It is believed this service has now been terminated as of 18:00 Hrs Mountain Time May 5, 2016. Twitter: @ABTransComm - Expired

Alberta gvt confirms emergency fuel locations (to get you as far as the next major fuel station) continues to remain VALID as of 15:00 05-08-2016 local time are available at:


      • UPDATE: (13:00 Local Time - 05/08/2016)
        • Updates on Twitter: @511Alberta
        • Fuel including Diesel, now available on Highway 63 South at Safety Rest areas: 
        • 60 km South - Mile marker 186 - Expired
        • 100 km South - Mile Marker 130 - Expired
        • 165 km south - Mile Marker 165 - Expired
        • Emergency Fuel at Hanging Stone Highway Maintenance Center is now CLOSED.
        • 40 Km South, 2 km south of Stoney Mountain Junction Road at Hangingstone in Highway Maintenance Yard.
        • 60 km South - 25 km south of Stoney Mountain Junction Road, parked in Safety Rest Area
        • Food, Water and Sanitation available at these safety rest areas.
        • Fuel will be supplied in quantities to get you to the next available public fuel station.
        • 50,000 liters of fuel is available for emergency use, 30 kilometers north of Fort McMurray on the southbound ramp of Suncor Voageur Interchange. Quantities will be restricted and are for use to evacuate south of Fort McMurray. - Expired

Pets and Animals

    • Fort McMurray SPCA safely evacuated all animals from its shelters. Twitter: @FMSPCA
      • Working to evacuate pets left behind during mandatory evacuation with RMWB shown below.
    • Edmonton Human Society can help support emergency shelter for animals left behind in Fort McMurray area if they are retrieved. Supporters of Alberta Animal Rescues (SOAAR)
    • Fort McMurray - Wood Buffalo city officials have prepared for an Emergency Pet Rescue search throughout the City for those that had to leave animals behind during evacuation. To have your pet rescued, sign up HERE.

Financial Aid

Keep all your receipts. Depending on the type of house and personal insurance you have, your expenses could be reimbursed.
    • Financial Disaster Aid program available from ATB Financial - 1-800-332-8383 (7 AM - 11 PM local time)
    • Insurance Bureau of Canada's consumer information line for assistance at 1-844-227-5422 or by email at FortMacFire@ibc.ca.
    • Unemployment Insurance Benefits (GoC)

SITREP

Currently road conditions south on Highway 63 is moving slowly near towns as people line up for fuel and supplies. Some locations are running low on essentials. Service stations in some cases are limiting fuel to 50 Liters to ensure everyone can get some fuel. See section labelled FUEL. - Expired.

Air Quality in region is poor. In some parts of the region, the air quality is three times over recorded averages scaled 1 - 10. Fort McMurray has recently recorded Air Quality index readings of 38. Readings are updated daily. 05-17-2016

Sustained Rain is not forecast as of 05-08-2016 to fall in region is unkown. - Expired.

Fire Department resources:

Over 500 firefighters from various neighboring fire departments have deployed to this wildfire.
  • Airdrie (4 FF and Tender)
  • Busby (FF and EQ)
  • Calgary (27 FF & Support Staff)
  • Carstairs (FF and EQ)
  • Coledale (FF)
  • Fort Chipewyan (FF)
  • Fort Mackay (FF and EQ)
  • Hinton (FF)
  • Wild Mountain Unit, Hinton (FF)
  • Leduc (FF and EQ)
  • Red Deer (FF and EQ)
  • St. Albert (FF and Tanker, Ladder)
  • Strathcona (20 FF)
  • Yellowhead (FF)
  • Province of New Brunswick (20 FF)
  • Province of Ontario (80 FF)
  • Province of Quebec (40 FF)

Post May 4th Evacuation Operations

May 5/6 - 2016

Airport Operations

Fort McMurray Airport (CYMM) Continues to be closed to Commercial Air Traffic. Check website or their twitter account for updates.

Fort Mackay (CYNR) (CAL4) (CFG6)
  • Airlift by contracted civilian commercial aircraft commenced evacuation of those who were trapped north of Fort McMurray at the following camps:
    • Suncor Energy Camp
    • Syncrude Cam
    • Tar Island
    • Fort Mackay
  • It is estimated that approximately 9,000 residence will be moved throughout this evening using buses to get flights from Fort Mackay's three private industrial airstrips. (05-05-2016) - Expired.
    • 4,000 residence have already departed as of 22:00 hours local time 05-05-2016. 
    • Airlift Completed (03:00 Local Time 5-06-2016)

Highway 63 

  • An estimated 20 - 25,000 residence will be escorted by RCMP on Highway 63 South beginning Friday morning. 
      • Completed
    • Registration for Convoys is being held at northern camp sites. Expired.
    • Departure: Expired. (05-06-2016)
    • Convoys being escorted by RCMP on ground and in the air. Expected to continue until 05-10-2016. Expired.
    • UPDATE: 05-06-2016 - As of 15:00 Hrs local time, convoy heading south have been halted due to fire approaching Highway 63 South. - Expired.
    • RCMP Control Check Point north of Airport on Highway 63 will CLOSE for evening at 22:00 local time 05-06-2016 until 06:00 - 05-07-2016 pending fire conditions. - Expired.
    • As of 05-06-2016 @ 19:00 Local Time, 2,500 cars with 7,500 people were successfully escorted south on Highway 63 out of Fort McMurray - Fort Mackay. Completed.
    • RCMP have halted convoys heading south early due to safety concerns as of 19:00 local time 05-06-2016. Check @RCMPAlberta for latest information. Expired.
    • As of 05-07-2016 @ 08:00 Local Time, Convoys have again begun to move through Fort McMurray towards Highway 63 South. - Expired.
    • It is anticipated that the majority of evacuees from north of Fort McMurray will be completed on evening of 05-07-2016. Check with RCMP twitter for further updates on 05-08-2016. - Expired.
As of 05-09-2016, 30,000 residence have evacuated and registered in the following locations:
  • Edmonton: 30,000 (est)
  • Calgary: 5,000 (est)
  • Lac la Biche: 2,500 (est)
  • Fort Chipewyan: 200 (est)
It is still unclear where other residences have temporarily relocated. Some are likely still in Provincial Parks and other towns such as Athabasca. Many were Eastern Province Maritime migrant workers and flew home.

Other Civic and Government organizations supporting response to wildfire.
  • Government of Canada Operations Center: Monitoring
  • Canadian Forces: Deploying personnel and aircraft
  • Firefighters increased from 100 to 275 (05-04-2016)
  • Firefighters 500+ (05-07-2016)
    • 100 Firefighters from Ontario dispatched (05-05-2016)
    • 62 Firefighters from Mexico dispatched (05-05-2016)
  • Aerial Tankers (44) and Helicopters Operating (15) as of 05-07-2016
    • 4 Tankers from Quebec dispatched (05-05-2016)
    • 1 Tanker has had landing accident (flight crew safe)
  • Canada Taskforce 2 (Calgary AB), consists of team of:
    • 50 disaster-management specialists from across central and southern Alberta including search and rescue crews, paramedics, logistics specialists and emergency command staff. Twitter: @CanTF2

Industry

05-16-2016 - The oil sands project camps are currently under a voluntary evacuation notice for those south of Fort Mackay and the Syncrude mines. All camps north of Fort McMurray up to and including the Ruth Lake Camp, along with production facilities requiring the use of the Aostra Road. The wildfire is impacting approximately 50% of all oil sands production in the province.

Oilsands production halted at following sites:
  • Athabasca Oil Hangingstone Mine (05-06-2016)
    • Continues to be threatened by wildfire (05-11-2016)
    • Wildfire has returned - 05-16-2016
  • Cenovus Energy. Est restart: 05-15-2016
  • Imperial Oil Kearl Oil Sands. Est Restart: TBA
  • Leismer - Statoil ASA Est restart: TBA
  • Nexen Long Lake Est restart: TBA (Worker camp destroyed) 05-17-2016
  • Royal Dutch Shell Albian Oilsands Mine Restart: 05-09-2016
    • Camps on voluntary evacuation as of 05-16-2016
  • Suncor Base Mine Est Restart: 05-15-2016
    • Camps to be evacuated again as of 05-16-2016
  • Syncrude shutting down Aurora and Mildred Lake (including Upgrading complex) and evacuating all personnel. (05-07-2016) 
    • Camps to be evacuated once more as of 05-16-2016
    • Aurora Est restart: TBA
    • Mildred Lake Est restart: TBA
  • Enbridge Pipelines (shut down) Restart Est: 05-15-2016
    • Status currently not known as of 05-16-2016
  • 05-17-2016 Camps evacuated include:

    • Syncrude Facilities South of Fort MacKay 
    • Suncor Facilities South of Fort MacKay 
    • Millennium 
    • Borealis 
    • Hudson 
    • Ruth Lake 
    • Mildred Lake 
    • West Ells 
    • Baseline 
    • MacKay River 
    • Black Sands Lodge 
    • Brion Energy – MacKay 
    • Grizzly Oilsands – Thickwood 
    • MacKay River Lodge on Aostra 
    • Marathon Oil – Birchwood 
    • Noralta 
    • Poplar Creek – also called Birch 
    • Southern Pacific – STP MacKay 
    • Sunshine Oil Sands - West Ells
Map of camps north of Fort McMurray. Source Noralta 05-17-2016

Restarting at some of the oilsands projects will be dependent on water quality. Ash from the fire may have contaminated some supplies. 

Bus Line provider evacuates Ft. McMurray
  • Diversified Transportation Notice 
  • The Edmonton Chamber of Commerce is offering complimentary office space to businesses displaced by wildfires in the Wood Buffalo region at their World Trade Centre Edmonton building at 9990 Jasper Avenue. To book space, call 780-426-4620 or email reception@edmontonchamber.com or call 780-426-4620.

Additional information resources

Technical Data Resources:

Canadian Wild Fire Forecast courtesy Natural Resources Canada 
05-08-2016 Canadian Wildfire Forecast Map
courtesy Natural Resources Canada

News Stories

Damage Assessments

05-05-2016 13:30 Mountain Time

Source: Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo - Fort McMurray. Imagery provided by NASA 05-04-2016

These early assessments are not a thorough review of damage that has occurred in Wood - Buffalo - Fort McMurray neighborhoods. Approximately 2,400 structures were destroyed with the majority of them being residential. All of downtown was essentially saved from destruction along with 25,000 homes were not seriously damaged.
    • Waterways - 90% of residences destroyed
    • Beacon Hill - 70% of residences destroyed
    • Abasand - 50% of residences destroyed
    • Downtown - 1 residence destroyed
    • Hospital - intact
    • Gregoire Estates - TBA
    • Ptarmigan Court Trailer Park / Waterways - Severe
    • Anzac - 12 Structures destroyed 
Commercial & Retail Businesses
    • Airport Fire Hall damaged
    • Airport Main terminal - Intact
    • Some commercial buildings on Old Airport Road damaged.
    • Downtown - No damage
    • Abasand - TBA
    • Gregoire - TBA
    • Ptargmigan Commercial: Significant damage
Basic infrastructure to residential properties such as water, electrical and sewer lines where homes have been severely damaged or destroyed will require significant planning and repair time. The amount of cleaning and removal of contaminants is another factor that will require extensive analysis to determine the extent the damage inflicted in each community. 

Assessment - Phase II - The Road to Recovery

Beginning May 9, 2016, the next step in Fort McMurray and the Regional Municipality of Wood - Buffalo will begin. The assessment phase. Approximately 85% of the structures within Wood - Buffalo - Fort McMurray remain intact. The downtown core is completely undamaged.

It was announced by both local and provincial government leaders on 05-10-2016, the target to have first damage assessments completed within two weeks, approximately May 24, 2016.

Homes and apartments that appear to have no damage may still be uninhabitable because of surrounding infrastructure damage caused. Common problems include contaminated water supply lines due to exposure and leaks in the supply lines blocks away. 

Neighborhoods with entire blocks of homes destroyed will likely require major repair or replacement. 

Telephone and television wire and cable plant face the same obstacles.  

Slave Lake, Staten Island, Atlantic City and most cities in Louisiana and Florida faced these same technical and environmental problems after a major Disaster struck their cities. All have successfully rebuilt.

While it is far too early to estimate accurately, the cost of the damage and how long it will take to recover, there is little doubt that will exceeds 3 Billion (Cdn) dollars and will take at least 24-36 months before visible recovery is firmly established. Because large segments of the municipality will not require repair and reconstruction, assessment teams will be able to create a strategic plan to stabilize any critical repairs required and then turn the focus towards neighborhoods affected.

The above estimate was an analysis before it was known how many civic facilities were damaged. By 05-10-2016, it became clear that the majority of city managed facilities, schools and all major businesses in the downtown core were not damaged and would be in a position to open reasonably quickly.

As a result, the city's ability to resume regular services to the community could be sooner than initially determined. Reconstruction of homes will largely depend on insurance claim process and contractor availability. Some oil industry workers who lived in Fort McMurray and Wood-Buffalo may find they are split for a period of time. Employees may remain in their work camps for longer periods of time while their families continue to live remotely in Edmonton, Calgary, Lac la Biche, Fort Mackay and Anzac. 

Because of the size and complexity of assessments required, those wishing to return quickly to homes that are visibly not damaged, are likely to be advised not to do so, until city engineers augmented by other provincial experts can make the area safe. This may take as long as 30-60 days. Perhaps longer given the unique layout of infrastructure because of geography and age of each system. Nor is it possible to declare one residential area safe while next door is not without severely compromising risk to health and safety unless prepared in advance.

All three levels of government, local, provincial and federal will be investing significant financial capital, in order to rebuild Wood Buffalo - Fort McMurray. There will be a number of initiatives that will be carried out in order to begin the recovery and rebuilding process.

The provincial government in concert with the Regional Municipality of Wood - Buffalo - Fort McMurray has uploaded post wildfire imagery that is layered onto Civic Property LOT maps. The resolution is less than 20 meter. For insurance purposes it is likely not sufficient evidence to determine partially damaged structure assessment requirements until surveyed in person. (05-15-2016)

Core infrastructure such as roads and utilities will qualify for Federal government program assistance under the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangement (DFAA) agreement managed by Public Safety Canada. This program will bear the majority of the costs Fort McMurray and surrounding region face.

There will be bureaucratic delays (red tape) as is the case with all large disaster recovery operations. This cannot be avoided due to the nature of the disaster and limited resources a municipality of this size normally has on staff. The number of building permits and inspectors required will have to be augmented if reasonable time lines are to be achieved. This may not be possible in some cases due to the nature of the repairs required. 

A volunteer surveyor has put together an unofficial damage assessment that can be found HERE.