Trimac’s Malysa & Canadian Freightways’ Wettstein On Flood Recovery

by Michael Brown

CALGARY — After a torrent of water washed through Calgary and surrounding parts of Alberta late last week, trucking operations are beginning to return to near normal service.

“There was a recovery time,” says Ed Malysa, president and chief operating officer of Trimac. “There’s going to be ongoing disruption, but not to the magnitude that we saw this weekend. We’re definitely past all of those emergency situations where roads were closed everywhere and bridge structures were closed down.”

“We had to pull up stakes and take as much equipment out of our yard where that window of opportunity existed,” says Malysa. “Then we had to operate from an emergency location at a hotel and that was quite disruptive.”

Ralph Wettstein, president of Canadian Freightways, echoes that sentiment: “Friday was about 60 percent of a normal day. People were going home because they either wanted to evacuate from their place or get out of traffic or just prepare.”

Wettstein says that getting shipments to interior British Columbia, like Kelowna and Kamloops, is still difficult as the typical routes are shut down. Currently, they have to drive up to Edmonton, and then west and south.

“We expect that today operations will be about 95-98 percent normal,” he says.

That said, while businesses may be able to resume normal operations, there are sure to be some infrastructure hiccups, such as roads, bridges and LRT lines that need repairs or reassessments. 

Those repairs, according to Wettstein, are already happening. “It’s quite interesting,” he says, referring to the area of Calgary where he lives, “they had street cleaners out and swept up all the mud and it looks like nothing has happened there.” 

Malysa thinks that areas like Canmore, still reeling from the after-effects of the flood, will take longer to recover. “The highway has been eroded significantly due to the flooding and that’s a major highway — that’s the Trans Canada. I can’t see that coming back to normalcy until the end of July.”

One thing is for sure; no one can believe just how quickly the flood occurred, especially at this time of year.

“I don’t think anybody anticipated the magnitude of this flood and so our initial impression was that this would be a temporary blip on the operational scale,” says Malysa, adding that they initially expected everything to back to normal by Monday. “But clearly some of the businesses, especially the ones that operate out of downtown, are going to be out for a lot longer than that.”

“I don’t know how you could be more prepared for that,” says Wettstein. “It just happens so fast and usually any of these areas get two or three days notice. No one’s seen anything happen like this.”

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