Like many people in Calgary, Jason Hamer and Chris Buckman have been spending long hours fighting back the flood.
Only Hamer and Buckman pack more powerful punches than most others who are battling the water.
Hamer has four, six-inch diesel-driven pumps at his disposal and Buckman is sporting a pair of 1.5-million-BTU flameless heaters.
Hamer is a partner in Rusch Equipment Inc., a pump and fluid management company located on Red Deer’s northern outskirts.
And Buckman is president of Ignite Frac Services Inc., a Calgary oilfield company with its main shop in Red Deer.
Each of the businesses dispatched a half-dozen workers and equipment to the flooded neighbourhood of Sunnyside on the weekend.
There, and in other residential areas, they’ve been pumping water off streets and out of basements, and drying out homes.
Hamer said Rusch’s pumps have been going non-stop since they were first deployed on Sunday.
“We estimated that we pumped out 3.36 million gallons in that one 14-hour period.”
Buckman said his heaters have also been humming.
“Since we started they haven’t stopped.”
The workers operating that equipment have also been running flat out.
“I think they went close to 38 hours straight before they had an hour of sleep,” said Buckman.
“We’ve been running on adrenaline a little bit. We’re just going to keep going as long as we can.”
When the opportunity for rest does arise, the crews don’t go far.
“We’ve just been sleeping in our trucks when we can get a little nap,” said Hamer.
But the fatigue has been worth it, agree the two men.
“I’ve had phone calls saying we were the angels,” said Buckman.
That gratitude was evident the moment the crews from Red Deer arrived, convoy-style, at the first water-logged neighbourhood.
“There were people hugging each other and there were crowds around us helping us get rigged up,” said Hamer.
“They haven’t stopped being grateful.”
Buckman, who owns Ignite with former Calgary Flame Rhett Warrener, became aware of the urgency of the situation when his own basement flooded on Friday. He and Warrener agreed to do what they could to help.
Meanwhile, Hamer and his partner Jeff Worth were trying unsuccessfully to contact emergency planning personnel in Calgary to pledge their own support. Because Ignite and Rusch work closely in the field, it was quickly agreed to stage a joint campaign.
Hamer said he was stunned by what he saw when he arrived in Calgary.
“Some of these houses, the water has come up almost to the roof.
“It’s like a war zone.”
Buckman, who played for the Red Deer College Kings hockey team from 1993 to 1995 and has maintained connections with the college and Red Deer, said the two crews are helping out anyway they can.
They see the impact their having, but realize there’s still a lot of work to be done, said Hamer.