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A lot of hail, wind and rain damage from storm

The southeast region is recovering from another powerful spring storm that rolled through on Thursday afternoon, but this time the storm brought hail, wind and rain, and resulted in a tornado warning.
The storm's hail smashed a window at a shed at the TS&M Woodlawn Golf Course

The southeast region is recovering from another powerful spring storm that rolled through on Thursday afternoon, but this time the storm brought hail, wind and rain, and resulted in a tornado warning.

The storm struck the Estevan area just before 4 p.m. While Environment Canada reported less than six millimetres of rain at its Estevan reporting station, many areas were hit hard. It took less than 30 minutes for the storm to pass through the Estevan area.

The tornado warning was issued at 3:46 p.m., but Environment Canada did not confirm a twister.

Electricity was also knocked out to much of the southeast for more than seven hours.

Jordan Jackie, a consultant for media relations and issues management for SaskPower, said a lot of people dedicated many hours to restoring the power. They assessed the damage and made repairs.

The power went out just after 4 p.m. in Estevan and much of southeast Saskatchewan. SaskPower began the slow process of restoring power to some of the communities, and the electricity was back on just before 10 p.m. in northwest and central Estevan.

Power was restored to the rest of the city by midnight.

“The storm rolled through and did considerable damage to our infrastructure in that area. There are a few different things that happened. The transmission lines around Boundary Dam Power Station were badly damaged,” said Jackie.

A number of repairs have been made to transmission lines. Five poles were badly damaged in one instance. One transmission structure was flattened.

“The coal units did trip, so that meant that there was no power generation happening there,” said Jackie.

On the distribution level, power lines were also damaged.

SaskPower also rerouted power, and brought in power from Manitoba after the storm.

When the units went down, they released all their steam. While it looked like there was a fire at Boundary Dam, since all the stacks were billowing steam, Jackie said there wasn’t one.

The Shand Power Station did not encounter any problems, he said.

Maureen Daoust, who is the business manager for the Woodlawn Regional Park, said the park sustained considerable damage, and the Boundary Dam site “definitely” sustained more than its Souris River counterpart.

“There were some really large trees, and some very old trees. It’s pretty sad to see them come down,” said Daoust. “We have a big one in the free park, and quite a few out at Boundary.

“At Boundary, the most damage, though, was probably lots of trees fell on campers as well. The insurance companies will be busy, I’m sure.”

Lots of vehicles also sustained damage.

But the campgrounds remained open during the cleanup phase.

The TS&M Woodlawn Golf Course, which is located inside the Souris River site, was also damaged. (See Page A13 for more on the golf course).

Park staff and volunteers cleaned up the two sites on Friday. They started at the Souris River campground and then moved to Boundary Dam.

“Seasonal campers are typically responsible for their own site, but obviously we helped them out,” said Daoust. “Some people won’t have access to a lift or a chainsaw or things like that.”

The damage that could be a safety hazard was cleared first, and then they started cleaning non-seasonal and seasonal sites with large trees and debris.

The user groups within the park received assistance for their cleanup. The Souris Valley Theatre had some trees down, and a big tree was down in the dog park.

Lucinda Milford’s 74-acre farm southeast of Estevan was particularly hard hit by the storm. Her family brought a modular home onto the land in 2012, allowing them to be close to other family members.

Two sides of their modular home will have to be replaced, as will the roof.

The deck, the insulation beneath the home, three sheds, all of their vehicles, tractors and all-terrain vehicles and a camper sustained damage. The grass was still saturated on Monday afternoon.

“I’ve never seen a storm like that before,” she said.

The hail caused the majority of the damage, but the wind also damaged their trees.

“We do have one that looks like it’s literally uprooted on the one side, and another great big 30-foot tree that snapped right in half. I’m sure there’s more back behind the trees, but I haven’t gone back in there.

Other family members on the property didn’t sustain as much damage.

While it was scary to be in the home during the storm, Milford said nobody was injured, and that’s what matters.

Residents of Bienfait are cleaning up from a powerful storm for the second time in two weeks. The town received several inches of rain from a thunderstorm on June 1.

In this latest storm, Mayor Paul Carroll said the bulk of the damage was hail driven by the wind.

“A lot of tree leaves and grass were pelted down, and windows were broken out,” said Carroll.

Lots of siding has holes, and windows were broken out of houses. Some houses that were exposed were damaged, while those protected by trees fared better.

Some low-level flooding also occurred.

It’s hard to determine how much precipitation was received, he said, because all of the rain gages were broken. 

The amount of hail received forced the Saskatchewan Ministry of Highways to employ a snow plow to clear about 300 metres of Highway 39 east of Estevan.

Steve Shaheen, a spokesperson for the Saskatchewan Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure, said the hail was several inches deep. Crews were out for under an hour.

It’s fairly rare to deploy a snow plow for hail accumulations in June.

“If roads become impassable, they go to work,” said Shaheen.

The storm resulted in one collision in Estevan. The Estevan Police Service, Estevan Fire Rescue Service and the Estevan Emergency Medical Services were called to a head-on collision at the intersection of Souris Avenue South and Fourth Street.

One driver was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital with injuries and transferred to Regina for further treatment due to the power outage that was occurring locally at the time. Another person had only minor injuries and did not require medical attention.

Fire Chief Dale Feser said the fire department was also called to a report of a possible tornado in the rural municipality of Estevan east of the city. A tornado didn’t occur, but they did encounter the treacherous driving conditions from hail and fog.

The power outage also resulted in elevator rescue calls, one from a local hotel and the other from a local senior citizens’ home. Both were freed from the elevator.