Ross Green

Applying Syncrude knowledge to flood relief

May 22, 2020

Syncrude Safety Codes Officer Ross Green is part of the RMWB Rapid Response Team and was quick to jump in when he got the call to help during the Fort McMurray flooding.

“I was asked to assess the flooded properties to see which buildings were safe to turn the power on right away and which buildings needed repair before they could have power turned on. I was in the role of an electrical safety codes officer,” he says.

Syncrude is a Mutual Aid partner, which is an alliance between Syncrude, Suncor, CNRL and the RMWB, providing emergency aid to each other as good neighbours. Ross was loaned to the city to help with the natural disaster.

Ross helped inspect nearly 50 commercial buildings downtown and in Taiganova: “The ones that were not damaged wanted their power back on as soon as possible so that they could start cleaning up, or even those that had minor damage, if they could get an electrician in there and fix it right away. We would look at it and let them know if they were safe or not to power up,” he adds.

Nearly 13,000 people were forced from their homes after the flooding and an estimated 1,200 structures were damaged in Fort McMurray’s downtown core, but according to Ross, the people he was in contact with were in high spirits.

“It was quite eye-opening. It’s sad to see the devastation and how much work they have to recover, but it is also kind of heartwarming too because you can really see the Fort McMurray spirit coming through these people,” says Ross. “Quite honestly, I was amazed with their attitude. I didn’t run into anyone that was feeling sorry for themselves, even though they are entitled to. I am sure they have moments when they are feeling overwhelmed, but you sure don’t get that sense from them.”

Ross experienced different ends of the spectrum while assessing the damage and giving either the green or red light to the business owners. From areas protected from sandbags placed by volunteers, to buildings with three to four feet of water and extensive damage, and everything in between.

He was also able to reference his Syncrude safety principles when working on these buildings: “It was a great to have all that Syncrude knowledge and wisdom to bring with me to this because it really was helpful. Sometimes your spidey senses go off and you feel something just isn’t right,” he explains. “The RMWB Safety Codes Officers and I changed some approaches based on our discussions. That is the strength of collaboration.”