Canadian News Apr 30, 2020 1:00 PM EST

Fort McMurray flooding claims one life as leaders call for local investment

The Mayor of Fort McMurray told media on Wednesday that one person has died due to the flooding in the area.

Fort McMurray flooding claims one life as leaders call for local investment
Sam Edwards High Level, Alberta
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The Mayor of Fort McMurray told media on Wednesday that one person has died due to the flooding in the area.

The death took place at the Athabasca River north of Fort McMurray and was water-related, says Don Scott, Mayor of the Wood Buffalo Regional Municipality.

The family has been contacted by RCMP who offered them help, according to CTV News.

This is the first and only death related to the current flooding in Fort McMurray.

The lower townsite of the Alberta community is undergoing a recovery plan and crews began pumping water out on Tuesday. The pumps can pull out approximately 14,000 gallons per minute and are provided by Syncrude. The removal of the water will take an estimated five days as there is about 400,000 cubic meters.

The public is still not allowed to return to the neighbourhood and the work is being looked over by the regional emergency operation centre. The municipality reports that almost 13,000 people have been forced to evacuate.

Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo council members toured the area on Tuesday and a spokesman said that in the following days, damage assessments will be released.

Mandatory evacuation orders are still in place for Draper, Taiga Nova Industrial Park, Waterways as well as the lower townsite.

Fort McMurray Construction Association president, Keith Plowman says that during the wildfire rebuild, most of the companies that benefited were based outside of Fort McMurray.

He added that the local industry is fearful that this will be the case again in rebuilding the damage caused by flooding.

“We don’t want to see a repeat of what happened with the fire. I think the people and business leaders of Fort McMurray don’t want that, either,” he said. “With the downturn from oil prices and the pandemic, we cannot afford to see that money leave this community and never come back.”

Plowman noted that the Northern Alberta Aboriginal Business Association (NAABA) and the Fort McMurray Chamber of Commerce will be teaming up with his association to make a list of local construction businesses that will be available. The list will be given to insurance companies that can pass them on to clients.

Scott is urging homeowners to hire locally, though he fears insurance companies will push people towards choosing businesses based outside of the area.

“There have definitely been issues in the past when fly-by-nighters came into this region, took the money and ran,” he said. “I want people to insist with their insurance companies that local labour and contractors be used. I see this rebuild as an opportunity to get the local workforce back to work.”

“One thing we will be talking to the province and the federal government about is what opportunities there are for people to get some compensation for this,” said Scott. “It’s something we as a municipality are going to discuss as well.”

The Northern Lights Regional Hospital is still unaffected by the flooding.

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