The spring breakup of the Athabasca and Clearwater rivers resulted in floods and the complete closure of downtown. The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo declared a second local emergency over the weekend in addition to the one declared last month due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Evacuation orders issued as rising rivers threaten Fort McMurray
Joseph Enverga has lived in Fort McMurray for approximately five and a half years. He currently lives in an apartment along Clearwater Drive. He said that despite voluntary evacuation orders in place in some areas, Saturday was “the most deceptive day.”
“It was just beautiful. It was beautiful, it was super hot all day, “he said on Monday afternoon. “I think I and a lot of people were like, ‘Anyway, it’s such a beautiful day. It will pass. “
Enverga said on Sunday that he had completed his usual day. In the afternoon, he was talking to his brother online when his power flickered. It was then that he decided to make a bag in case he was forced to flee.
“I had a little training during the fires, so now I got a lot better excited than during the fires,” he said with a laugh.
At around 6:00 p.m. her food was cut for about an hour. It made him feel a little more uncomfortable. He went to bed and woke up several times during the night, and finally around 4 a.m. he decided it was time to leave.
“I looked out my window and saw that half of the parking lot was covered with water. So I thought, “Okay, maybe it’s time to leave. “”
He packed his bags and went to assess the water before leaving.
“When I went to inspect the water in the parking lot to see if I could really get out. I went around and saw two people there and they were knee deep … I don’t think I’m going out. ”
It was then that two rescuers arrived on a boat and offered to leave for safety.
“It was breathtaking,” he said of the water. “All of a sudden it just increased and the city center is flooded.
“From what I could see, I didn’t think it was that high. But when we were on the boat … I can see that the water is halfway up a stop sign. Then we turn the corner and I can see that the cars are submerged. It’s quite deep. ”
Enverga said he was taken by bus to one of the drop-in centers.
“The bus was pretty cool,” he said. “They took a very limited number of people, like six people at a time. Just be aware of COVID procedures. They had things recorded – “This is where you sit, this is where you sit. “
Upon arriving at the visitor center, Enverga said he had more wildfire flashbacks.
“There were only lines. And those lines reminded me of the days of forest fires, “he said.
“Driving north on the highway, just seeing that line of cars – it brought back all those memories of forest fires. People were standing outside their car with this ‘What’s going on? It all started again. »»
Mandatory evacuation orders were in place for all areas between Hardin Street and the waterways on the east side of Highway 63 on Monday afternoon.
Enverga ended up asking a friend to pick him up, where he will stay for the foreseeable future. He acknowledges that the flooding comes at a difficult time for the northern Alberta community – the flooding is compounded by the COVID pandemic and the drop in oil prices.
“We had just found our new normal after the forest fires. We were getting into the rhythm. We had an economic development plan, ”he said.
“It was a thought that crossed my mind when I saw the flood. We are trying to get back to normal, we have made a plan. We must now try to find a new normal with this coronavirus. Meanwhile, our oil prices have become negative.
“How will our city live? And then comes this flood? I think we all hoped it would be like every other year. It will be calm, it will break well and gently.
“And now it’s just a big mess in the city center. “
But despite the difficulties, he knows that Fort McMurray will come back strong once again.
“We are redoubling our hope. We just want to continue to encourage everyone. For me, having crossed the powder trail and in this area, I am delighted to be one of these agents who is simply trying to encourage people, to encourage people. Because it’s so easy to get discouraged. “
For an updated list of areas under mandatory evacuation, visit the RMWB website.
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