Communicating during the Fort McMurray wildfire crisis
The 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire—a fire larger than Prince Edward Island—was deemed by the Insurance Bureau of Canada as the largest insured disaster in Canadian history, at an estimated cost of CDN$3.58 billion.
Over 90,000 residents were evacuated and over 1,800 structures, from single-family homes to apartment buildings, were destroyed—affecting over 2,400 residences. Well before this assessment was made public in early July, a team of 68 dedicated communication practitioners served within the Regional Emergency Operations Centre (REOC) for the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB) from 1 May to 30 June 2016 with the ultimate objective of keeping everyone in the community safe (as outlined in the procedures of the RMWB REOC Manual)—an objective that evolved into a working mantra of “Safe, Resilient, Together.”
This session will cover:
- How technology played a big role in communicating during the crisis.
- Why process is key.
- How unexpected challenges became opportunities.
Presenter /Diane Begin / Alberta, Canada, has worked in communication for over 15 years, primarily in the public and not-for-profit sectors, prior to working in an agency setting. Her background includes work in both western and eastern Canada, with significant experience in the area of government relations. She was one of the communication leaders during the Fort McMurray wildfire evacuation from May to June 2016.
Presenter / Jordan Redshaw / Alberta, Canada, is a municipal communication specialist who has worked in the communications field for three municipalities. In his current role with the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, he executed critical crisis communication through the Fort McMurray wildfire evacuation and is the communication team lead for the ongoing recovery effort.