Medicine Hat is recovering from an extreme windstorm and tornado


Construction experts, tradespeople and suppliers came together in the aftermath of a severe storm to get Medicine Hat’s electrical infrastructure back up and running.

The city’s electrical infrastructure suffered significant damage in a confirmed EF-2 tornado and flurry in July that left more than 7,600 customers without power.

Two substations with several transmission lines, distribution feeders and transformers were affected. More than 80 utility poles fell with live lines attached.

Boyd Mostoway, Medicine Hat’s acting general manager of energy and infrastructure, said most of the damage to the city came from the winds that followed the tornado.

“The response was immediate from our side and within three to four hours we had teams from the contractor companies,” Mostoway said. “They all made themselves available to us within hours and had people available.”

The restoration work required 17 bucket trucks, 13 excavators, two backhoes, two cranes, 33 trucks, a dump truck, a drone and several hydrovac units. Suppliers provided over 3,500 units of hardware, over 160 insulators and over 60 poles.

CITY OF MEDICINE HAT — Pictured is some of the damage from an extreme windstorm near Medicine Hat, Alta.

“When the pandemic hit, construction continued to be a vital industry,” said John Digman, executive director of the Medicine Hat Construction Association. “When the recovery picked up, construction was a key industry via infrastructure spending. And when disasters hit like the floods in British Columbia, the For McMurray fires and the Medicine Hat tornado, construction is critical to the cleaning and rebuilding.

City crews were aided by contractors like Niwa Crane Ltd., C&K Trucking (Hydrovac) Inc., Hydrodig, DDK Concrete Pumping Ltd., LMT Crane Service and Ronco Oilfield Hauling Ltd.

Electrical industry experts, including the City of Lethbridge, Fortis Alberta, Nixon Projects Inc. and Atco, sent 37 field workers with specialized training to assist the city’s 38 electrical field workers, five command staff incidents and 15 support staff. Even more employees from other city departments like parks and recreation, city assets and city operations (gas), as well as contractors, have been added to the dedicated workforce to the recovery of the electrical system.

Suppliers have also taken action. The city has received support from Stella Jones, Fortis Alberta, Atco, Altalink, EECOL Electric, Guillevin International Inc., Domino Highvoltage Supply Inc., Anixter Inc., K-Line Group of Companies, Rexel Canada Electrical Inc., Westburne and Eaton/ Cooper Power Systems. These companies either redeployed their own electrical parts and supplies to Medicine Hat or helped expedite the procurement, supply and delivery of materials on behalf of the city.

“These companies and suppliers have helped us immensely,” Mostoway said. “It took a breakdown that would have taken four to five weeks to fix and cut it down to days.”

Staff will continue cleaning and rebuilding the electrical system for the next three to four weeks. Short-term planned outages may occur in order to redirect power to appropriate routes ahead of the storm.

“We had windstorms, but not of this magnitude,” Mostoway said. “It was particularly unpleasant.”

According to Environment Canada, several homes, a motor home and grain silos were damaged by the tornado, which hit around 1:10 p.m. about 10 kilometers southwest of Redcliff. The wind speed is estimated to have reached 190 km/h. Shortly after the tornado, the area near Redcliff was hit by a downburst – a strong downdraft and outward wind system. It downed trees and power lines and damaged structures with winds of 150 km/h.

“Thank you to everyone who contributed,” Mostoway said. “I think it’s great that everyone is willing to give up what they were doing and help the city, and a lot of companies are in construction or are suppliers and they were willing to take time out to help. the community. All in all, you just can’t get enough people like that.

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