Drivers

Alberta, Canada, Floods 'Brutal' For Trucks

June 21, 2013

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TODAY'S TRUCKING -- Truckers are coming from all over Alberta to provide whatever assistance they can to those affected by the massive floods currently impacting Calgary and southern Alberta.

“They’re providing trucks for storage, containers, doing whatever they can with what they have available,” says Don Wilson, executive director of the Alberta Motor Transport Association. “It’s neat, it’s neat to see.”

Wilson says that already a call has gone out to drivers in Edmonton, Lethbridge and Medicine Hat to assist the water-logged areas, and already help is on the way.

“You pull together and I think that’s something about Alberta, and certainly Calgary, is that you put a call out for volunteers and people are there,” he says. “You just buckle down and you mobilize to help your neighbour and get it done.”

“Everybody needs to work together to come to the best solution for everybody,” says Jennifer Singer, operations manager for Ron Singer Truck Lines. “It’s not just for one person; it’s for the betterment of everyone.”

In terms of the aftermath of the floods, Wilson says that with the rain still coming down, it’s hard to figure out exactly how much damage there is and what it will mean for the rest of the country.

“The longer things drag out, the more we’ll see it trickle down to consumers and there might even be some shelves empty. It’s huge from that point of view.”

Wilson says that the longer roads are inaccessible, the bigger impact it could have on consumers. “[Some consumers] think ‘I just go to the store and things magically appear on those shelves.’ We know that’s not how that works,” he says. “Even 24 hours can throw a loop in to [delivery plans].”

Singer says flooding like this is uncommon at this time of year and is usually seen during the spring thaw. With so many roads closed, she’s unsure of how it will affect her business.

“It’s brutal for my trucks out west because the road is closed in Canmore and they can’t even come back the south way now because it’s probably going to be closed at Sparwood,” says Singer.

There are sure to be ramifications down the line, too.

“I need to get shale in to the Calgary Stampede. Hopefully I can do that; hopefully my trucks get back in time so they can go pick up shale,” she says. “It’s unfortunate [for] the transportation system — we’re not made to handle this type of weather. We’re not prepared for weather like this.”

Emergency evacuations have already happened in Canmore, High River and Calgary, which saw the city evacuate more than 75,000 people. Mudslides caused the Trans-Canada Highway to close, isolating the towns of Canmore and Banff.

The Elbow River has reached its peak, but officials still say the Bow River could rise another 30%.

“We had a major [flood] back in 2005,” Wilson says, referring to a series of rainfalls in June of that year. In three weeks, there was almost 250 mm of rain. “This one is making that look almost like a trickle, but nothing like this.”

He’s right; over the last three days, the area has seen almost 200 mm of rain.

“It just hit so much and so fast,” says Wilson.

“We just need to better prepare for something like this in the future,” Singer says. “We knew it was going to rain. We need to be prepared and plan for a ‘what if?’”

To find out the extensive list of which roads and highways are closed, visit the Alberta Motor Association Road Reports website. Donations can be made to the Canadian Red Cross relief effort here.

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