By Justin Seward
The residential areas south of Broadway Avenue in Redcliff were without power all night on Oct. 17 and well into the afternoon Oct. 18 after a a vicious wind storm hit southeastern Alberta.
“That’s been our main concern is our critical infrastructure,” said Kim Dalton, Redcliff’s director of emergency management services.
Those critical infrastructures included some of the sewers that are not gravity fed without the use of lift pumps.
“When the lift stations are out of power, your sewer doesn’t work,” said Dalton. “We’ve been running around with generator, draining the lift station and running over to the other lift station and draining that.”
The water treatment plant was running on a back up generator and the challenge became apparent with making sure there was enough diesel available to keep the plant running.
There was a 1,200 litre tank which kept the plant running for 10 hours.
“You’re dealing with potential boiled water orders and flushing the lines and recholorinating the system,” said Dalton on if there was no back up generator back up.
Dalton said there was not much to speak of on the major damage front other then trees falling into people’s yards and on powerlines, while there was minor damage to the library and the arena.
He is encouraging Redcliff residents to limit water use to help protect critical infrastructure.
The Cucumber Man greenhouse owner Rick Wagenaar said although his crops were not a bust and with a high percentage of owners having standby power there should not have been too much of an issue.
He had some minor damage and emphasized the importance of standby power.
“There was very few of us in Redcliff that lost that much roof on one range as we did last night,” said Wagenaar.
“In my 30 years, I don’t remember the last time, other then the hail storm in 1995, the wind sustained at that speed for that long of period of time.”
He said that a majority of greenhouses do have standby power but during a storm you are at the disposal of the temperature.
“If you have standby power, really nothing is changing. For those that don’t, we’re not eating right now. We’re at the mercy of the temperature, which isn’t very good right now. We probably won’t see any impact immediately because we’re still above zero. The other thing is watering of course, that’s our only two criteria, maintaining temperature and water.”
With the crops being exposed to colder temperatures overnight and having no heat, there will not be any immediate impact to the harvest and it becomes a waiting game.
“We’re still producing today as we normally would,” said Wagenaar.
“These plants are a hybrid, so they don’t like cold. Unless they physically freeze, they’re not dead. It might take us three or four days once the heat is restored to see if there is any root damage because that will result in a flagging plant.”
Power was restored on Oct. 18 at 2:30 p.m.