Operation LENTUS – Flooding in Medicine Hat
By Capt Philip A. “Buck” Buckingham
On Friday afternoon of 21 June 2013, A Squadron (Sqn), under the command of Maj Eric “Ark” Angell, patiently awaited the call to assist the citizens of Medicine Hat in mitigating the damage of massive flooding in southern Alberta. The deployment order was issued on the 22 June at 1130 hrs. Immediately, A Sqn issued orders and conducted a road move. Pictures and feeds from news and other media outlets showed in vivid detail the destruction that Calgary and Canmore had already suffered while rumours spread through the Corporal News Network (CNN) that the situation was dire. With B Sqn already deployed and assisting in Kananaskis and Reconnaissance Sqn deployed in Penhold, A Sqn’s challenging task was to drive ahead of the rising flood waters to Medicine Hat and provide relief.
After driving through the night and watching “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Wedding Crashers” on the cruiser buses to keep calm, soldiers of A Sqn were prepared to do whatever was necessary to assist fellow Canadians. When the Sqn arrived in Medicine Hat, it staged out of Crescent Heights High School. Acting Battle Captain, Capt Karl “don’t call me radio” Tams, manned the command post, and the rest of the Sqn quickly moved to the downtown core to continue construction on a kilometre long dyke. Under the direction of WO Richard “Richie” Sherren, 15 soldiers began tying the dyke into the railhead as the water began rising. MCpl Colin “Heavy lifting” Davidson commandeered a bobcat and offloaded 90 semi- flatbeds full of desperately needed sandbags before being relieved. Cpl Alexander “the Joker” Kent kept the morale high, joking and keeping the soldiers energized.
Over the next 8 hours, the water level rose over 5 feet and threatened downtown. Cpl Michael “Ski” Korenowski, Cpl Derek Murdoch, and Cpl Richard “Peter Rabbit” Wagner were hard at work laying vapour barrier and positioned sandbags. While the immediate danger area was blocked off, MCpl James “Deuce” Doucette and his crew continued to build down the length of the railway. Despite the lack of sleep and immediate threat, morale was high as local citizens brought soldiers of A Sqn sandwiches, coffee, water, and mostly importantly, their appreciation.
In another part of the city, Lt Jamie “Women and children only” Brittain, WO Melanie “Frenchie” Parent, WO Shane “Don’t leave me behind” Flanagan, Cpl Brandon “Hoop Dreams” Campbell, Tpr Ryan “Just Catch it” Hamm, and Cpl Romeo “Speedy” Kabongo, under the direction of the Officer Commanding and Squadron Sergeant-Major, WO Chenier, went to the Medicine Hat Power Plant to begin the massive effort of sandbagging the vital infrastructure. In a rare moment, a Canadian Television media crew caught Tpr Spencer Richardson actually working and Cpl Andrew “SPCA” Phalen saving a brood of rabbits (really only two), directly in front of a camera crew.
Once the water crested on the morning of 24 June, A Sqn transitioned to patrolling residential areas watching for gaps with the only excitement occurring when Tpr Jesse “of course it’s a good idea” Ell picked up a baby rattlesnake. Thankfully, the worst was over and on the morning of the 25 June, A Sqn departed Medicine Hat weary but full of pride and sense of accomplishment. The generous support and assistance provided by the citizens of Medicine Hat was greatly appreciated and will not be forgotten. Special thanks go out to the Staff of Crescent Heights High School for putting a roof over the heads of A Sqn soldiers, feeding them Tim Horton’s, and encouraging them.