Civeo Sheltering Ft. McMurray Flood Evacuees

Published: May 1, 2020

Image: Flooded sections of downtown Fort McMurray as seen from the air on Monday, April 27, 2020. Image Credit: Fort McMurray Today

The turn of phrase “come hell or high water” can often be heard when rallying in defiance of whatever difficulties may lay ahead. For residents of Fort McMurray, Alberta the words took on new meaning Sunday when flood waters breached the banks of the Athabasca and Clearwater rivers displacing thousands of residents in several neighbourhoods across the community.

Each spring, the break-up of ice on the rivers around Fort McMurray creates ice dams which can contribute to rising water levels and the risk of flooding. On Monday, the ice buildup was estimated to be approximately 23 kilometres long. The extent of the flooding is something the community has not experienced in decades.

With this crisis coming in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and just four years since the catastrophic forest fires that ravaged the community destroying homes and businesses, Fort McMurray has suffered more than its share of heartbreak and tragedy.

Responding to a Community in Need

On Sunday, the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB) implemented a mandatory emergency evacuation order for several neighbouhoods impacted by the flooding. With more than 13,000 residents displaced from their homes, Civeo has worked closely with the RMWB and other local officials to provide lodging to over a thousand members of the local community seeking refuge at our locations in Alberta’s oil sands. We have been carefully coordinating these efforts with our customers to maximize the amount of housing available in our lodges to those in need, while ensuring that we maintain our stringent health safety measures adopted at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As of Thursday evening, we were providing accommodations for approximately 1,100 members of the community at our lodge properties and will continue to work collaboratively with local officials to assist the community in its recovery efforts.

In addition to providing accommodations for evacuees, Civeo is also working with our Indigenous partners to address the shortage of grocery supplies being experienced in some of the surrounding First Nation communities.

It’s What we Do

True to our culture, we make a difference in the lives of those we serve. As we did in May, 2016 when forest fires forced thousands of Fort McMurray residents to flee their homes, or when a cyclone devastated communities in Western Australia in March, 2017, the Civeo family answered the call to assist our neighbours in need.

Within hours, people throughout the organization acted with purpose and urgency to ensure we were prepared to welcome evacuees to a safe and supportive environment. We are well-positioned to respond, and without hesitation, happy to support the community in any way we can.

Al Schoening, President of Civeo Canada, underscored the incredible collective effort displayed by our lodge staff in Fort McMurray. “Our deepest thanks go out to our team members on the front lines who are our true heroes,” says Schoening. “Without their tireless efforts, we couldn’t have responded to this situation with the determination and compassion that has been displayed.”

In the spirit of #FortMcMurrayStrong, the community will emerge from this. Come hell or high water.

To donate to the relief effort, please visit United Way Fort McMurray and Wood Buffalo at