Fort McMurray, AB,

Wildfire Update - Residents returning home

The devastating wildfires and the evacuation of Fort McMurray have taken an incredible toll on residents. As Albertans, our communities have responded with an unprecedented show of support, raising money for the Canadian Red Cross and dropping off donations at AMA centres, Food Banks and other collection points.

And now, as residents prepare for a voluntary, phased re-entry to the City of Fort McMurray, AMA is standing by to help make sure the return home is as safe and smooth as possible. For families who will be returning to sift through damaged property, this homecoming will be bittersweet.

Supporting families comes first

AMA Insurance teams have been working around the clock to start claims, assign adjusters, and advance emergency funds to evacuees. With a strong presence at the evacuation centres, AMA employees are doing everything possible to pitch in and help out. But the work is just beginning.

Like residents, AMA Insurance is heading back to the city to assist residents, answer questions and help move claims forward. AMA is helping our employees return home to the city and working hard to clean up and safely reopen the AMA Centre at 4 Hospital Street. While the AMA Centre remains closed for now, a dedicated insurance claims centre  is running out of a trailer in the parking lot starting June 1. We'll have more adjusters on the way as arrangements and accommodations are finalized for them.

Recognizing the challenges of the re-entry process, AMA Insurance has extended mass evacuation coverage to June 15 for all policyholders who aren't able to return during the voluntary re-entry. We're working to assist residents who've been prohibited from returning to their homes in the Abasand, Waterways and Beacon Hill neighbourhoods to provide additional living expenses. Answers to most claims-related questions can find answers on the AMA website.

Ready to lend a hand

AMA Roadside Assistance is on standby to assist motorists as they return home. Having worked closely with local emergency services to deliver fuel to stranded motorists and clear abandoned vehicles from the highway, AMA will have extra operators on hand to help with battery boosts, tows, fuel delivery and lock-out services. Anticipating traffic congestion and increased call volume, motorists may need to be patient as AMA prioritizes calls to reach the most vulnerable first. Motorists who need a hand can call 1-800-222-4357.

With gaps in local services, motorists are encouraged to travel with what they need to keep vehicles running. Top up fluids, check air filters for ash, and travel with a full fuel tank. Pack plenty of water, food, and supplies, including an emergency kit for your vehicle. Find more tips on what to bring or consult the Wildfire Re-Entry Plan on the RMWB website.

Starting to move forward

As residents return, many will want to jump right in and start cleaning up their homes. Free cleaning kits are available at the seven information centres set up around Fort McMurray, and residents don't have to wait for an insurance adjuster before getting to work. Taking photos of damaged areas is the first step, and residents should keep receipts for all cleaning related supplies. Mould, ash and smoke-damaged debris can present respiratory challenges, so always wear the N-95 mask provided and keep children away from damaged areas. Find more information about health risks and cleaning on the Alberta Health Services website.

AMA is continuing to accept donations at all 16 AMA Centres across the province, including non-perishable food,  diapers and baby wipes, pet food, toiletries and new socks, underwear, pillows and shoes. Thanks to the generosity of AMA members and employees, over $300,000 in donations have been raised for the Red Cross.

Working together for a safe return

To make the re-entry as safe as possible, AMA is reminding motorists to go slow, be patient and follow the directions of police officers and other emergency services who are working hard to keep things moving. Be prepared for traffic delays, follow the rules of the road, and take care of yourself, your family and your neighbours. 

Those requiring health care will find 24/7 support from Alberta Health Services at the Fort McMurray Urgent Care Centre in the Syncrude Sport and Wellness Centre, (located at 9908 Penhorwood Street). Residents with questions can call Health Link toll-free at 811 or access help through the Mental Health Helpline at 1-877-303-2642.

Contact the AMA Newsroom at 1-888-960-6397 to arrange interviews.