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It took teamwork to get the Flames back on the ice after the Scotiabank Saddledome was partially submerged when the waters rose in Southern Alberta

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames /

Four years on, the immensity of the project continues to resonate.

"When I first got in there, into the building,'' recalls Flames' COO John Bean, "my reaction was 'Wow … it's dark in here.'

"It's funny, looking back, but we didn't get terribly overwhelmed. You certainly could've been overwhelmed' could've frozen. But our adrenalin kicked in immediately.

"We knew we had a pre-season game in September and there were concerts coming.

"So you just get 'er done."

The rains that began to accumulate on June 8, 2013 would quickly accelerate into the devastating Flood of 2013 across Southern Alberta.

The $5 billion in damages and $1.7 billion in insurance claims made the flood the costliest natural disaster in Canadian history.

Down in the Victoria Park area, the Scotiabank Saddledome was hit. Hard.

"What really would've taken a year, year and a half to get done, we did in 75 to 80 days,'' says Bean. "You still back look fondly on that part, at least, on the way everyone came together.

"But I'm not interested in doing it again."

After the water had been pumped out and an assessment was possible, Flames president and CEO Ken King reported event level as a "total loss." The first eight rows of seats had been submerged.

Yet not even three months later, the Flames played an exhibition game on Sept. 13.

"For the players, we saw what happened and the way the city came together and the team that helped repair this arena," marvelled centre Matt Stajan of the clean-up effort. "It's amazing."

And then some, considering considering the devastation flood waters exacted.

"There wasn't one big obstacle,'' recalls Bean. "There were so many challenges queued up that people jumped through hoops for.

"One of the trickiest things was to find replacement seats. They're not sitting on a store shelf somewhere. What we did do was sent two semi-trucks down to Mexico and they went non-stop - we found a factory in North America that could actually produce appropriate seats and then logistically get them up in here time.

"The day after we had the water pumped out, Custom Electric came in and literally went around the building to look at all the (electrical) and such that needed replacement. 

"We ordered them that day."

The original aim was to be ready for Calgary Stampede concerts a month later. That turned out to be a trifle optimistic but setting such a fast-track goal was important.

"That,'' says Bean, "accelerated the entire process."

With the assistance of Cana, the building's contractor, Custom Electric, Botting Mechanical and a staggering amount of man hours by so many people invested in the project, it all, somehow, happened.

"You look back on what was needed to get it done,'' says John Bean, three years later. "It's all about teamwork. How does teamwork work? You have a vision, a goal and you have people who understand their roles, what needs to get done and you have a feedback group - we met every day, at the end of the day, for 70 days.

"But it was a true demonstration of teamwork. Not unlike hockey teams and football teams that perform at a high level.

"This just happened to be on a different playing field."

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