May 7, 2021 Update

River breakup declared

RMWB thanks community for support keeping neighbourhoods safe during flood season

River breakup has been declared today, May 7. This means there is no longer a significant risk of ice jams causing flooding along the Clearwater and Athabasca rivers in Fort McMurray and surrounding areas.

“On behalf of the Municipality, I’d like to thank everyone who helped prepare for river breakup and the community for their support accommodating temporary flood protection measures, helping keep neighbourhoods safe,” said Matthew Hough, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer. “Protection of life and property will always be the top priority and although this year we experienced more of a thermal breakup, flooding caused by ice jams is impossible to predict and we need to be prepared every spring. We are already in the process of reviewing our river breakup preparedness plan so we can improve efficiencies, reduce inconveniences and begin planning for next year.”

Stay away from riverbanks

Although the risk of flooding is reduced, riverbanks remain dangerous due to fast moving water. Anyone taking part in activities near rivers should exercise caution and keep a safe distance from shorelines.

Removal of temporary flood mitigation

Crews have already started removing equipment and temporary flood mitigation to begin cleaning up and reopening areas as soon as possible. Clearwater Drive is expected to be fully reopened by May 28 or earlier.

Triple dams are being inspected, properly stored and will be available for future use. The clay from the temporary berms is being used for permanent flood mitigation projects this summer.

All environmental and regulatory requirements as well as public health measures continue to be followed during the removal of temporary flood mitigation.

For everyone’s safety and to assist cleanup efforts, please follow all posted signage, keep a safe distance from equipment and do not enter closed areas.

Construction of permanent flood mitigation

Even though river breakup has been declared, the work to reduce flood risk continues with multiple mitigation projects scheduled for this summer. Mitigation projects offer a significant return on investment. For every $1 invested in mitigation, $7 to $10 can be saved in post-disaster recovery costs, according to Public Safety Canada.

Find more information on flood mitigation projects at

Free sandbag disposal

The sandbag program is now closed. Over 25,000 sandbags were provided to residents and businesses.

Beginning next week, filled sandbags may be dropped off free-of-charge in Waterways at the corner of Bulyea Ave. and Park St. The opening date for the drop-off location will be announced shortly. The drop-off location will be available seven days-a-week from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., for three weeks from the opening date. Further updates will be provided once available.

All sandbags dropped off in Waterways are being brought to the Municipal landfill, where the bags will naturally deteriorate, and sand will be repurposed for other uses.

After the drop-off location closes, sandbags may be brought to the Municipal landfill for disposal.

Store sandbags properly

Community members can retain, and reuse filled sandbags in the future, but they must be stored properly to prevent damage. Sandbags can be stored inside or outside but they must be protected from the sun, rain and snow. If storing outside, it’s recommended to place sandbags on a pallet and cover them with a waterproof and UV resistant tarp.

For more information on river breakup, visit

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