The disastrous flooding in Southern Alberta has impacted hundreds of TransCanada employees on personal and professional levels. Many of our staff are dealing with damage to their own homes and communities. At the same time, TransCanada took the unprecedented step of closing its corporate head offices for a week due to the widespread flooding of downtown Calgary. These difficulties highlight the importance of the company’s constant focus on safety and emergency preparedness, ensuring we can continue to provide the essential energy products to our customers around North America even in the most challenging circumstances.
TransCanada is also committed to helping with emergency response and relief efforts in all of the communities where we operate. In response to the floods, we have committed $250,000 to support flood relief in Alberta, beginning with a $50,000 donation to the Canadian Red Cross. Our community relations staff have been lending a hand in relief efforts on the Siksika Nation east of Calgary, and many TransCanada employees have been volunteering to help family, friends and strangers in communities around Southern Alberta.
In High River, where virtually every family has been impacted, TransCanada is providing the Alberta Emergency Management Agency with several acres of land in the Saddlebrook Industrial Park for staging recovery efforts and setting up temporary housing for 1,000 people who can’t return to their homes.
“We own a section of land containing a former magnesium production facility that is dry and currently vacant,” said Geoff Murray, Vice President of TransCanada’s Western Power Growth team. “When we heard that the Government of Alberta was looking for a site for temporary housing, we mobilized quickly and reached an agreement with AEMA so they could begin prep work immediately and have access to the land for the next 12 months.”
The Saddlebrook site on Highway 2A near the Hamlet of Aldersyde is permitted for future development of a TransCanada power plant.
Business continuity plans paid off
In the days leading up to the southern Alberta floods, employees in essential positions across the company came together to ensure TransCanada’s pipeline and power facilities continued to operate smoothly, despite the widespread state of emergency. Employees from the pipeline control centre and emergency operations group relocated to their back-up facilities outside of downtown Calgary, ensuring that our crude oil and Canadian natural gas pipelines continued to run safely and reliably. We are pleased to report that none of our pipeline or power facilities were affected by the high water levels.
“I was impressed by the way the teams came together to ensure our core business continued without interruption. These efforts are a real testament to how we collaborate and go above and beyond in difficult times,” says Wendy Hanrahan, executive vice-president of corporate services. “I’ve also heard many touching stories about our employees who volunteered their time over the last week to help those impacted by the flood. I am so proud of everyone. It is a true reflection of how TransCanada employees care deeply about the communities where we live.”
TransCanada’s pipeline integrity team has completed a full assessment of our pipeline network in Southern Alberta and has identified several areas where the recent flooding has resulted in pipe becoming exposed or where other remediation work will need to be conducted. None of these issues pose a risk to public safety or the environment. We are closely monitoring all of these sites and will be following up to conduct detailed analysis and rehabilitation work as soon as water levels have receded and it is safe to access these sites.
Rough weather ahead
Meanwhile, TransCanada’s U.S. Pipelines employees, based in Houston, have been preparing for the 2013 hurricane season, which officially started June 1. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts a very active storm season this year, with up to six major hurricanes.
“Our goal is to make sure there is no disruption to services and customers during any hurricane or crisis,” said Bernadette Baisden, a member of the Houston team that helps ensure continued service and safety of TransCanada’s eight U.S. gas pipelines and storage operations during hurricane season.
As part of its emergency preparedness plan, a team of TransCanada employees temporarily relocated to their backup Disaster Recovery Centre, inland from Houston, in May to make sure all systems were fully functional.
Steve Mize, manager, Gas Control for U.S. Pipelines Central, noted that the Disaster Recovery Center is always open during any level or type of disaster. During Hurricane Ike, in 2008, the Houston office fully and safely operated its natural gas pipelines at the center for two weeks without any obstacles.
“This facility is open to us 365 days a year,” Mize said. “Each May, we perform tests at the center to make sure everything functions correctly. Our Information Services team works out of the center every month to ensure the facility is operational. We’re good to go!”
Houston employees also prepared
Information sessions on hurricane preparedness are also being held for Houston employees, ensuring that everyone and their families are ready to handle the unexpected during the upcoming hurricane season.
Earlier this year, TransCanada’s teams in the U.S. Midwest also stepped up to provide financial support and volunteers for recovery efforts following the deadly tornadoes in Oklahoma.
While business is returning back to normal in Calgary, we recognize that it will be a long road to recovery for many Albertans who have suffered enormous loss as a result of the floods. We would like to extend our thanks and appreciation to our staff and to the dedicated emergency response professionals around Alberta who have done their utmost to ensure the safety of our fellow citizens.