Northern Alberta residents are allowed to return home. CP photo

Northern Alberta residents are allowed to return home. CP photo

Evacuation orders lifted in Fort McMurray, Fort Vermilion as cleanup continues

‘Residents may return home if they choose’

FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. — Most evacuation orders brought in after ice jams on several rivers caused flooding and forced thousands of people out of their homes in northern Alberta have been lifted.

Officials in Mackenzie County allowed about 500 residents from Fort Vermilion, Buttertown and Beaver Ranch to return Monday morning.

“Residents may return home if they choose. You may also stay in the accommodations that you have been provided,” county officials said Sunday in a social media update. “Once you check out of your room, you may not return.”

They warned residents returning home to Fort Vermilion to watch for sinkholes as the ice jam that had caused flooding on the Peace River left large chunks of ice on the streets.

Members of the Little Red River Cree Nation at Garden River, which is also near the Peace River, were still under an evacuation alert Monday, an Alberta government website indicated.

In the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, which includes the city of Fort McMurray, all mandatory evacuation orders were lifted by 6 p.m. Sunday. About 13,000 people were forced out of their homes at the height of the flooding on the Athabasca and Clearwater rivers.

The final order ended as Fort McMurray marked the four-year anniversary of a raging fire that emptied the city four years ago.

Many of the evacuation orders had begun the last weekend of April due to the spring ice breakup.

The flooding affected several low-lying areas along the Athabasca and Clearwater rivers, including downtown Fort McMurray.

Residents there returned to soaked walls and muddy basements on the weekend. Some of the homes won’t be inhabitable because of water damage.

Premier Jason Kenney has said residents of northern Alberta forced from their homes due to flooding will receive emergency payments. Evacuees can apply for $1,250 for each adult and $500 for each child.

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