Thursday marks one year since an explosion rocked the community of Regina Beach, destroying one home and damaging a number of properties.
“It’s gone. It’s literally ground level from what I’ve heard. Basically all the walls (are) gone. The roof is in the trees somewhere,” Mark Oldershaw, the man who owned the home that blew up, told News Talk Radio one year ago.
The home exploded following a natural gas leak caused by ground shifting.
“It was a bit surreal, I mean, I just walked down the street and there had been a big blue house there before and then now there’s just a big hole in the ground and smoke,” said Mark’s wife Kathy Oldershaw, speaking from her home in Regina reflecting back on the incident.
She recalled how two of her couches that were inside the house had been tossed onto the street. Other debris such as pink insulation, pieces of roof, and shards of glass joined the mess both on the road and even up in some trees.
The scene has been compared to a war zone.
“I was just sort of a bit stunned. It was like, kind a dream.”
Kathy indicated her life wasn’t really affected other than the personal items lost in the blast such as pieces of artwork from family members and sentimental quilts. The emotion of the experience didn’t sink in until later.
Thankfully nobody was home at the time of the blast. She’s glad nobody in any of the surrounding buildings was injured.
“I don’t know if I’d feel as comfortable going back if someone had been hurt or killed.”
While SaskEnergy can’t discuss what happened on Dec. 3, 2014 due to lawsuits before the courts, director of media relations Dave Burdeniuk told the CJME Morning Show about the steps the provider has taken since the blast.
“We’ve done a lot of work out at Regina Beach,” Burdeniuk said Thursday morning. “We’ve taken 36 different points along gas lines, gas mains and installed what are called flexible loops or expansion loops which just give a whole lot more flex.”
Along with installing more-flexible components, SaskEnergy has upgraded 167 lines, installed 15 points in the town with measuring devices, and constantly surveys the area for leaks.
Another new step taken in the last year is something you might call out-of-this-world.
“There’s a satelite-monitoring service that we started to use at the beginning of this year,” Burdeniuk explained. “The radar has two satelites and it sweeps over Last Mountain Lake every 24 days and we’ve helped the company in charge of this satelite identify – there’s 8,060 points throughout the town. The satelite then, it bounces a radar beam off all 8,000-plus points … and it can tell movement within three to four millimetres.”
Burdeniuk admits there’s still ongoing movement within Regina Beach; service has actually been permanently removed from 24 homes. However, Burdeniuk said SaskEnergy is continuously doing work, and educating the public, to prevent something like this from happening again.
The rebuild continues
“We were kind of the canary in the coal mine,” described Oldershaw.
Twelve months later, there’s an eerie sense of calm in the air that hasn’t been heard for a while. Gone are the sounds of hammers pounding and saws buzzing. Most houses have removed the plywood that was covering blown out windows. Piles of debris have been cleaned up. Repairs are virtually complete, but not entirely complete on all homes.
But perhaps the most telling sign that the community has rebounded and things are getting back to normal is at the site of ground zero. What used to be an empty hole where the Oldershaw’s former home stood is now filled with a new house, one that Kathy said she be finished by the end of December.
“We’re getting quite anxious. We’re dying to be able to be out there and stay out there.”