Fort McMurray fire evacuees will suffer effects for years, emergency official predicts
Tom Sampson briefs Calgary city council on local efforts to help people affected by disaster
Calgary's top emergency official is predicting years of pain for Fort McMurray as it recovers from this month's forest fire.
Tom Sampson, head of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA), briefed city council Monday morning on Calgary's response to assist Fort McMurray.
More than 2,300 evacuees are now taking shelter in Calgary post-secondary schools, he said.
They are being housed in dorm-style student accommodations at the University of Calgary, SAIT, Ambrose University and Mount Royal University. Many more are staying in the city with families or friends.
Sampson says there are many ways the disaster will be felt for a long time to come.
"You see the people driving out with flames immediately beside their vehicle and I think the psycho-social impact of that will be massive on that community," he said.
"Our friends there will have a tough one-year anniversary and they'll have a tough five-year anniversary as they deal with that."
Before any residents can return, improvements are needed in several key areas in Fort McMurray, Sampson said.
The hospital needs work before it can re-open and a boil-water advisory remains in place.
About 200 group-lodging spaces are still available at the U of C, if needed, said City of Calgary spokeswoman Emma Stevens.
And there are still dorm-style rooms available in Red Deer, Medicine Hat and Lethbridge.
On the website RentFaster, there are also nearly 550 discounted apartments being advertised for Fort McMurray fire evacuees in Calgary and Edmonton.