This coming Wednesday is the day evacuees have been waiting for and the GNWT says it’s going to be as ready as it can be.
Updates on the re-entry plan were given during a press conference late Saturday afternoon and the message was one of patience and preparedness.
For the availability of fuel services along Highway 3 for those who are driving, Jeffery Edison, acting assistant deputy minister with the Department of Infrastructure, said that the Big River service station in Fort Providence will be only open from 6 a.m. to midnight once the return begins.
In a social media post on Saturday, Big River indicated that there is more than enough fuel for everyone who stops at the station — Edison indicated that they have twice as much on hand as usual.
Edison added that there will be tow trucks with fuel available, but those will be for emergency situations only.
He also said that there will be no changes to the speed limits on the highway, except around the Deh Cho Bridge and service stations, where traffic will be slowed down for safety reasons.
Anyone trying to get in before 12 p.m. on Wednesday will be stopped and made to wait until the time comes.
As well, Thompson told residents not to travel to northern Alberta ahead of time as those communities are already at capacity and can’t provide anything more than what they’re already giving. Those travelling by vehicle will be responsible for their own expenses: gas, food, accommodations and other expenses.
Health services will be very basic, but the emergency department at Stanton Territorial Hospital will be offering routine medical services if needed. Emergency surgery will also be available, along with emergency obstetric care.
Yellowknife Public Health will be closed, but appointments missed will be re-scheduled. Home care services will be reduced and staff will be contacting clients to discuss services that can be provided.
Pre-registration for re-entry flights for those who need to come home by plane is now open for those living in Yellowknife, Ndilo, Dettah and the Ingraham Trail. Pre-registration will allow for lists to be made and before flights begin heading home. Those who are staying in Alberta, Yukon and Manitoba can start registering — hubs are being created in Alberta and will be done according to need across the province.
Those who have to remain in Alberta because of health concerns will have some supports available to them. Patients who are being advised not to return, such as those undergoing dialysis and chemotherapy, advance and high-risk pregnancies, will be contacted with the next steps. Long-term and extended care patients will be brought home near the end of the resumption of full service. Going back home all depends on whether their home community is open.
Edison said officials will continue to monitor the fire situation and provide updates as needed. He also reminded residents to register with their local emergency organization before returning home.
The time of return is subject to change, added Edison, because of weather or any other changes in fire behaviour.