Building experts, dealers and suppliers came together after a heavy storm to get Medicine Hat’s electrical infrastructure back up and running.
The city’s electrical infrastructure was severely damaged during a confirmed EF-2 tornado and blast tornadoes in July that left more than 7,600 customers without power.
Two substations with multiple transmission lines, distribution feeders and transformers were affected. More than 80 electricity poles fell with live lines connected.
Boyd Mostway, acting director of energy and infrastructure for Medicine Hat, explained that most of the damage to the city was from the post-hurricane winds.
“The response was immediate on our part and within three to four hours probably we had crews from contracting companies,” Mostway said. “They made it available to all of us within hours and had people available.”
The restoration work required 17 bucket trucks, 13 excavators, 2 cranes, 33 trucks, one dump truck, a drone, and multiple hydrovac units. Suppliers have supplied more than 3,500 units of hardware, more than 160 insulators, and more than 60 poles.
“When the pandemic hit, construction continued as an essential industry,” said John Digman, executive director of the Hat Medical Association for Construction. When the recovery resumed, construction was a major industry through infrastructure spending. And when disasters strike like the British Columbia floods, the Four McMurray fires, and the Medicine Hat hurricane, building is essential in cleaning up and rebuilding.”
City crews were assisted by contractors such as Niwa Crane Ltd. and C&K Trucking (Hydrovac) Inc. and Hydrodig and DDK Concrete Pumping Ltd. and LMT Crane Service and Ronco Oilfield Hauling Ltd.
Electrical industry experts, including the City of Lethbridge, Fortis Alberta, Nixon Projects Inc., and ATCO, have sent 37 field personnel with specialized training to assist the city’s 38 electrical field personnel, five incident command personnel, and 15 support personnel. More employees from other city departments such as Parks and Recreation, City Assets and City Operations (Gas), as well as contractors, have been added to the workforce assigned to restore the electrical system.
Suppliers also jumped into action. The city has received support from Stella Jones, Fortis Alberta, Atco, Altalink, Ecole Electric, Gilvin International Inc, Domino High Voltage Supply Inc, Ancaster Inc, K-Line Group of Companies, Rexel Electric Canada, Westbourne and Eaton/Cooper Power Systems. These companies either redeployed their electrical parts and supplies to Medicine Hat or helped expedite the process of sourcing, purchasing, and delivering materials on behalf of the city.
“These companies and suppliers have helped us a lot,” My level said. “It took an outage that would have taken four to five weeks to fix and reduce it to a few days.”
Staff will continue cleaning and rebuilding the electrical system for three to four weeks. Planned outages may occur in the short term in order to redirect electricity to appropriate paths before the storm.
“We’ve had windstorms, but not that big,” Mostway said. “This was especially bad.”
According to Environment Canada, several homes, an RV and cereal boxes were damaged by the cyclone, which struck about 1:10 p.m. 10 kilometers southwest of Redcliffe. Estimated wind speed was 190 km/h. Shortly after the hurricane, the area near Redcliffe experienced a downdraft – a system of strong winds inward and outward. This resulted in downed trees, damaged power lines and structures with 150 km/h winds.
My level said, “Thank you to everyone who contributed.” “I think it’s great that everyone was willing to give up what they were doing and help the city, a lot of companies are in the construction phase or suppliers and were willing to take the time out of their day to help the community. In general, you can’t get enough people out of this kind.”
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