PUBLISHED: 29 November 2013

Timeline of Events: Wood Buffalo Region and Fort McMurray

Before major flooding impacted the southern region of Alberta, the northern Alberta municipality of Wood Buffalo reported severe flooding in the town of Fort McMurray on June 11th and 12th. A local state of emergency was declared by the regions mayor, Melissa Blake, to ensure the safety and security of people living in affected communities. Approximately 150 people were evacuated from low-lying communities along the full and fast-moving Hangingstone River. 

Days of heavy rain led to the high water levels of the Hangingstone River that eventually caused damage and destruction to parts of Fort McMurray. Debris carried by the Hangingstone River further compromised bridge structures and river banks resulting in road and bridge closures. The unprecedented water levels of the Hangingstone River prompted twenty RCMP officers to be deployed to the town to ensure the safety and security of citizens[1].  In addition to evacuation orders, some communities were faced with boil water advisories to protect against potential contaminants. While there was no loss of life, citizens of Fort McMurray dealt with severe disruptions and damage to property. 

One month after major flooding impacted communities in Fort McMurray, clean-up efforts continued to remove mud and silt left behind from the flood waters. Important landmarks such as the local sports complex and heritage buildings in Heritage Park were heavily impacted by the flood, requiring significant construction and rebuilding efforts. In response to the flooding in Fort McMurray and in the southern Alberta region, the Government of Alberta immediately promised $1 billion in relief money, a portion of which would be allocated to Fort McMurray. Moving forward, the local municipal government in Fort McMurray is dedicated to flood mitigation measures that reduce damage and the negative impacts of potential future floods[2].

[1] “State of Emergency declared in Fort McMurray.” CBC News Edmonton. Published June 11, 2013. Accessed November 21, 2013.   

[2] Bates, Andrew. “McMurray mulls plans to protect against future floods.” Fort McMuray Today. Published July 18, 2013. Accessed November 21, 2013.