In July 2013, a train carrying crude oil derailed in Lac-Mégantic (Canada). This disaster provoked a major fire, 47 deaths, the destruction of 44 buildings, a massive evacuation, and an unparalleled oil spill. Since 2013, Public Health has undertaken several actions to address this challenging situation, using both quantitative and qualitative methods. Community-based surveys were conducted in Lac-Mégantic in 2014, 2015 and 2018. The first two surveys showed persistent and widespread health needs. Inspired by a salutogenic approach, Public Health has shifted its focus from health protection to health promotion. In 2016, a Day of Reflection was organized during which a map of community assets and an action plan for the community recovery were co-constructed with local stakeholders. The creation of an Outreach Team is an important outcome of this collective reflection. This team aims to enhance resilience and adaptive capacity. Several promising initiatives arose from the action plan—all of which greatly contributed to mobilize the community. Interestingly, the 2018 survey suggests that the situation is now evolving positively. This case study stresses the importance of recognizing community members as assets, rather than victims, and seeking a better balance between health protection and health promotion approaches.
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