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Another storm shakes small Sask. town

Kelvington and area sustain major damage.

KELVINGTON — The town of Kelvington and surrounding area were hit with a devastating storm Aug. 13 that caused extensive damage.

Crops were flattened, bins were flipped, trees were broken and buildings were destroyed.

“Boom, just very little warning,” said James Perron, Co-op Food Store manager, firefighter and town council member in Kelvington. “At about eight O’clock it just hit us, like a hurricane or tornado…. It was just terrible.”

There are three co-op facilites in Kelvington. The food store, gas bar and ag and home centre all suffered from the heavy wind and rain.

The ag and home centre saw one of their ready to move homes completely destroyed, while another came off its blocks and moved about 15 feet.

The Gas Bar lost a large portion of its roof in the wind, which has shut it down for the foreseeable future.

As power poles and lines came down, the town was left without power for about 24 hours, according to Perron.

The food store was forced to donate thawed and spoiled food from their coolers and freezers to farmers through a program dedicated to reducing waste.

“The rain kept going for hours, a very heavy downpour at the beginning that flooded our food store. It just came down so hard, the rain with the wind, it was driving it through the front doors,” said Perron.

He said that the wind was so extreme that the rain was virtually sideways, with the worst of the storm coming in the first 30 minutes.

For farmers, the damage to bins and crops came at a bad time, as harvest is not far off.

“I’m pretty sure for a lot of farmers, when they saw that, their hearts dropped. It flattened a lot of beautiful-looking crops,” said Perron. “The amount of bins that went down for the farmers here, it was very heartbreaking.”

Garry Sutter is a farmer in the Kelvington area that saw his pole shed and 30,000-bushel bins topple and crumple during the storm.

“We went out to move the trucks into the shop because we thought it was going to hail, and as we’re in the shop with the trucks, the shop started to disintegrate … We’re not sure of the integrity of that building right now,” said Sutter.

The pole shed that sheltered him from the storm lost a section of its roof, had its doors destroyed and potentially moved a corner of the building entirely.

“It was like standing behind a jet engine when the plane is taking off, with the noise and the velocity of the wind,” said Sutter.

He wasn’t the only farmer to lose bin-space before harvest, but he lost more than 400,000 bushels of storage space because of the storm. He said any bins left standing had grain in them, but were heavily damaged.

One of his large bins got pushed through a three-phase power line and came to rest on the grid road nearby.

He hopes to be able to replace a large portion of the bin-space lost before he begins harvesting in about three-weeks, but said it’s a large “if” he can replace them in time. If not, he will turn to grain bags for storage.

Louise Armstrong lives on a farm near Lintlaw, Sask., a town close to Kelvington. Her farm and community didn’t get his as bad, but she’s seen the damage.

“The bins (Sutters’) were huge, with a spiral staircase. It looks like they took the tops off with a can opener,” said Armstrong.

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She also said a friend of hers that runs a day care found their tent folded up nearly a mile out of town.

With no power and trees and debris everywhere, the community came together to clean up quickly. Perron said the next morning was filled with the buzzing of chainsaws after the town workers cleared the fallen trees off the streets.

“Everybody has been so wonderful, coming together to do that. Our hall has backup power, so we actually left the hall open all yesterday so you could come in and have coffee and charge your phones,” said Perron. “People really helping each other out. You only find in a small town.”