A little over one week after a state of emergency was declared in Alberta as a result of wildfires in Fort McMurray, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited the ravaged community Friday.
Trudeau toured the area with Alberta premier Rachel Notley, meeting with a number of firefighters and first responders near the emergency operations centre. Trudeau also took an aerial tour of the affected zone in a military helicopter.
The prime minister lauded the work of emergency responders as “amazing,” saying that Canadians don’t necessarily understand the scope of what happened as a result of the fires that claimed 2,400 buildings and displaced more than 80,000 people.
Trudeau said most people know there was a fire and they know that large portions of the city were saved, but don’t necessarily realize how much hard work from emergency crews went into that effort.
While there is no date for people to return home, the province says it will take five days to assess all the surviving structures in Fort McMurray.
Addressing reporters, Trudeau heralded the contributions to the Canadian economy from Fort McMurray, and other communities in the oil sands region, promising that Canada will continue to repay the favour.
The federal government is fast-tracking Employment Insurance claims for workers displaced by the fire.
Thousands of people displaced by the Fort McMurray wildfire have also been receiving pre-loaded debit cards from the Alberta government and Red Cross in an effort to ease the financial strain caused by their evacuation.
On Wednesday, the provincial government announced it will provide $100 million in emergency funding for evacuees while the Red Cross announced it will contribute $50 million from the $67 million donated by Canadians so far for fire relief efforts.