Trucks Keep Driving Canada's Flooded Oil Regionby Jana Ritter - Published: 6/25/2013
Record flooding caused by heavy rains wreaked havoc across Alberta (Canada's main oil region), closing and/or washing out roads and causing what will undoubtedly be millions of dollars of damage to infrastructure, flooded businesses and homes.
Calgary alone received more than 50 millimeters of rain in 24 hours and nearby areas closer to the mountains, had more than twice that total. The inundation of rain led to the overflow of Bow, Elbow, Sheep and other rivers upstream, causing them to spill over their banks, so much so that a state of emergency was declared in Calgary Thursday night. People were warned away from the downtown core and some 100,000 or more were evacuated and electrical power to the affected areas shut down. On Friday morning, city authorities asked people to refrain from unnecessary travel.
With major roadways left several feet under water, submerging abandoned vehicles throughout the region, the natural disaster also had a definite impact on many trucks forced to park and wait until the Trans-Canada Highway and the southern Crowsnest route reopened. The Trans-Canada was also reported to be closed east of Golden, B.C., stranding people in the Banff and Lake Louise areas.
Truck stops in Calgary were busier than usual with drivers forced to wait until road conditions cleared. Cliff Haigh, who drives for Pro Ride Trucking out of Surrey, B.C., got into Calgary just before the storm hit there, but not before he ran into some pretty hairy stuff between Lethbridge and Brooks. “We went through that thunder and everything,” he said. “The wind was so bad it actually lifted up the front of my truck as we were driving.”
Darcy Reed, who hauls crude oil for Mesono Holdings of Vulcan, Alta., said it’s critical to get the crude moving with all possible dispatch because it’s “like milking cows; it just keeps producing and you have no choice but to haul the stuff. If you don’t get it out of there then you have to shut the wells down and if you do that it’s a huge (deal) to restart them.” A veteran of 35 years behind the wheel, Reed said that Hwy. 2 south of Calgary was a sight to behold on Thursday night. “There were places I’d never seen flooded before. There was so much water it was running over number 2 highway for probably six, eight hours last night.”
But disasters tend to bring out the best in people and the trucking industry is rising to the occasion as much as it can. Don Wilson, executive director of the Alberta Motor Transport Association said, “some of the Edmonton carriers have been asked to come and assist the southern areas any way that they can.”
Dan Duckering, of Red Deer’s Duckerings Transport, said his Edmonton manager spent Friday in a truck, “running a load of emergency supplies down to the Calgary region.” He also explained that the company was working with Alberta Health Services to ensure emergency supplies got through to the Hospital in Banff.
After the storm reached its crescendo through the weekend, roads have slowly re-opened and business slowly resumes.