The evacuees have evacuated the reception centre at Northlands. Cots that at one point provided a restless night’s sleep for 2,000 have been packed away, and pallets of other supplies are being shipped out. The last of those who escaped the fire of Fort McMurray have moved out so the Expo Centre can revert back to its original function.
“It just seemed like the timing was right,” said Edmonton fire chief Ken Block. “There were not a lot of people requiring cot space in the evenings so the decision was made that it was the right time to transition people.”
They’ve gone on to apartments, friends, the dorms found on Edmonton’s college campuses and other medium term accommodations. “There’s been a pretty good uptake in other facilities that certainly offer something beyond the cot type scenario,” Block told reporters. “These are families that need to transition into something more semi-permanent perhaps before they do relocate back to Fort McMurray.”
Since May 4, when local officials scrambled to set up the shelter, some 25,000 people have passed through the Expo Centre. “It was busy, and it was hectic. It was a bit of an organized mad scramble, organized chaos I suppose.”
“At the height of things there were some 2,000 people that were actually accommodated here over night and over the period of a little more than three weeks there were 75,000 meals that were served. That’s incredible.”
A voluntary, phase re-entry to Fort McMurray is scheduled to begin on June 1.