Sioux Lookout Declares State of Emergency

Smoke impacting the region
Smoke impacting the region

Sioux Lookout, ON – Mayor Doug Lawrance declared a State of Emergency in Sioux Lookout at 7:00 pm Central Daylight Time on May 30, 2019 as a key step in ensuring the community is well-equipped to assist with the evacuation of Pikangikum First Nation. An emergency Declaration ensures that resources are made available and any costs incurred by the Municipality resulting from the assistance provided, are covered by the provincial and/or federal governments.

Sioux Lookout’s Emergency Control Group, consisting of representatives from the Municipality, Emergency and Police Services, local, provincial and federal health, safety and emergency management agencies and organizations, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, a variety of First Nations organizations, and community volunteers who assist with logistics, met twice today to discuss the situation in Pikangikum – the community is being evacuated due to a forest fire. In concert with the Office of the Fire Marshall and Emergency Management’s (OFMEM) Provincial Emergency Operations Centre (PEOC), the Emergency Control Group determines how best the community can provide support and assistance, and manages the local response.

As a result of those discussions, the decision was made to serve, first, as a “hub” community and then as a “host” community, as the need dictates.

As a “hub” community, Sioux Lookout will receive all evacuees from Pikangikum First Nation beginning on May 31, 2019 and continuing through June 1st. The residents of Pikangikum will be airlifted to Sioux Lookout via the Royal Canadian Air Force C-130 aircraft (the “Hercules”), and then transferred onto Dash-8 aircrafts which have been obtained by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, and subsequently flown to Cochrane or other host communities, where they will be accommodated for the duration of the evacuation. Additionally, should there be delays as a result of weather, pilots “timing out”, or other circumstances, any evacuees at the end of the day who are unable to be transferred to Cochrane or the other host communities will be housed in Sioux Lookout overnight, and will then resume their journey the following morning.

Sioux Lookout Fire Chief, and Community Emergency Management Coordinator Rob Favot explained, “After Saturday, June 1st, Sioux Lookout will either continue to serve as a “hub” community, or become a host community; this determination will be made by the Sioux Lookout Emergency Control Group in consultation with PEOC. If we switch to a host community on Sunday, or later next week, we will then begin receiving and accommodating evacuees here in Sioux Lookout.”

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