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Poile, Predators lend advice in Saddledome rebuild

by Aaron Vickers / Calgary Flames

I realized our flood of two feet in our building and theirs of that level was going to be a huge, huge situation that's going to take a lot of time and a lot of work to put it back together.David Poile

CALGARY, AB -- David Poile has seen significant flooding before.

But not quite like Calgary.

The Nashville Predators general manager witnessed the devastation of flood waters invading Tennessee in 2010 but immediately felt compassion for residents in Southern Alberta after recent flooding forced over 100,000 from their homes and causing hundreds of millions of dollars.

And having seen his own Bridgestone Arena sit under nearly two feet of water as a result of flooding in Nashville three summers ago, Poile reached out to Ken King and the Calgary Flames, who suffered total losses at the event level of Scotiabank Saddledome.

"I told [King] that on the surface there was no comparison because ours was two feet deep and theirs was as deep as it was," he said. "I told him there was a huge amount of work to do a lot of things we hadn't thought of."

Flood waters breached Bridgestone Arena on May 2, 2010 as flooding entered the control room, locker rooms, coaching offices and storage areas, causing between $8-10 million in damage. Waters entered Calgary's rink on June 20th and quickly filled the lower bowl up to the eighth row in just 24 hours.

"Everything that was touched by water and even a lot of stuff that wasn't touched by water was contaminated and the time frame that we had was from May 1st to training camp and their already six weeks behind us," Poile said. "Their man-power to put the Saddledome back together again is going to be a real, real challenge for them."

Time isn't the only challenge standing in the way of having the arena ready for action in October. With 13.5 inches of sewage water on the event level of Bridgestone Arena, levels fell just short of getting into main electrical equipment and the ice plant.

Completely submerged at the event level in Calgary, the Saddledome needs to be completely rebuilt below, forcing postponements of Stampede concerts including KISS, Tim McGraw and the Dixie Chicks.

Recovery poses big obstacles, but Chris Jones and the Predators haven't been shy to send advice in the direction of Calgary's physical rebuild.

Jones, Bridgestone Arena's director of operations, said the Predators' home rink was fortunate in avoiding more catastrophic damages but still had obstacles in getting show ready.

"The day before our first concert after the flood (May 22, 2010 – James Taylor and Carole King), we were given a use-and-occupancy all-clear signal from the city; however, as we were cleaning everything that was deemed 'cleanable' by the city, everything was left in big piles for us to put back into order," he said. "It was a big task to get ready for the show and get things with the arena in order, but everyone jumped in and helped bring order back to the event level."

The Flames weren't so fortunate, but can still learn from Nashville's experience -- and mistakes.

"Underground conduits and pipe chases that were overlooked and had some issues after we started hosting shows again," Jones said.

"Also, don’t overlook the small things that may have been lost, such as bolt and nut assortments."

But perhaps Jones' biggest piece of advice will be the most beneficial to the multiple crews working around the clock to bring the Saddledome up to speed.

"Divide and conquer," Jones said. "No one person can get everything in order and oversee remodeling efforts."

WIth some last-minute efforts, Nashville opened on time for preseason action three seasons ago.

That now becomes Calgary's challenge.

"I realized our flood of two feet in our building and theirs of that level was going to be a huge, huge situation that's going to take a lot of time and a lot of work to put it back together," Poile said.

And drop the puck on time for the 2013-14 NHL season.

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