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found on Saskatchewan
wreaks havoc on Estevan
It was a storm to remember, for those who witnessed it and others who
were directly affected by it.
More than 20 millimetres of precipitation were recorded at Environment
Canada's official measuring station at the Estevan Airport July 2. High
winds, heavy rain, large and sustained hail and even tornados were part
of the freak weather system that lasted only a few minutes.
Funnel clouds were spotted in and around Macoun, Hitchcock, Outram, Glen
Ewen and Carnduff.
Wind gusts eclipsed 100 kilometres an hour and destroyed trees. Estevan
city clerk Yvette Wright said initial estimates indicated 63 trees were
uprooted. City crews cleaned up debris well into the night July 2. "Between
them and a lot of really great volunteers, I think the streets were made
passable," said Wright. "From then, most of the people have
just been looking after their own property and dealing with the debris."
Free landfill services were being offered to Estevan residents to dump
trees and shrubs damaged by the storm.
All Estevan residents were without power at some point during the storm,
and some customers didn't have electricity restored until around midnight
Saturday. Power failures also occurred in Oxbow, Glen Ewen, Carnduff,
Carievale and Gainsborough and the surrounding rural customers.
"Part of that was the fact that in Estevan, the roof off the Legion
Hall fell on the power line, and that had an impact on the operation of
the sub-station," said SaskPower spokesman Larry Christie. At
the peak period, Christie estimated 3,000 customers were without power.
Several buildings sustained serious damage. A portion of the plastic
roof at the Souris Valley Market Gardens' greenhouse was torn off.
"From the highway, it looked fine, but once we got in and saw the
east side, it had ripped away," said owner Rhonda Hesketh.
the most staggering destruction was sustained to the unfinished Southview
Court Town Homes, located on the old hospital site in Estevan. Dennis
Moe from Century 21 Border Real Estate, who is selling the condominiums,
said he was "devastated" when he saw the damage. "The
fortunate part is nobody was hurt, the building didn't fall on top
of any other buildings, and it's just lumber," Moe told Lifestyles.
Insurance representatives inspected the damage on July 4. A deadline
for the insurance agencies final report hasn't been established. "We
aren't in a position to make any kind of announcements until the insurance
adjuster looks at it and deals with it," said Moe. "It was
a good project a week ago, I'm sure it'll be a good project again."
Lumber from the project was hauled away starting July 5.
Neil Kish witnessed
the development's destruction from his house a few feet away. "We
were looking out the front window, it was blowing and hailing, and from
the amount of time where the wind really hit to when the building went
down was probably 10 seconds at the very most," said Kish. Kish said
the wind pushed the lower levels down, and the top came down on top of
The tin roof from the Estevan Royal Canadian Legion's main hall was blown
away. Office manager Maureen Duncan said they also lost their two air
conditions, electricity and ceiling tiles. The neighbouring small
hall, Jubilee Room and club room escaped unscathed, but were closed from
the lack of power.Legion bingo was cancelled for July 4 to 8. Duncan hopes
they can resume games in the small hall the following week. Three wedding
receptions had to be moved.
"One wedding, fortunately, found another place to go to. I have to
get in contact with the other two wedding parties and tell them they can't
be here. I'm trying to find other places for them to go to," said
Duncan. "The Elks said they will help us, the Knights of Columbus
said they will help us." Duncan estimates the main hall will
be closed until the end of July.
Stephanie Michel watched the storm develop from her Hitchcock home. They
finished mowing the lawn, weeding the garden when conditions became ugly.
"It seemed to come in pretty quick, it got kind of overcast, and
it just suddenly blew up into major winds," said Michel. "We
were keeping a pretty close eye on the sky, and it was looking pretty
ugly there. I got my camera and was taking some pictures, but by the time
I was done, we had everything in the basement and prepared for the worst."
The tornado did not touch down near them. They lost trees, shrubs, some
shingles off the roof and their garden.
Bryant Conquergood from Border Bannatyne Insurance said more than 100
claims have flooded his office since the storm, all related to wind and
"I think we've got three or four that had trees come down on their
house, but other than that, they're pretty small," said Conquergood.
"A lot of it just turns out to be clean-up more than anything else:
branches, leaves and a couple blocks on the west end with trees falling
in the front yard." Conquergood said there were worse storms in August
of 1997 and July of 1986. "Those would be the two biggest
volume and dollar-wise claims in the last 20 years," said Conquergood.
"We probably had 80 per cent of the city, both times, put claims
in. This time, it'll be lucky to be 10 per cent of the city."
Tim Katsantonis and his wife Tara were fishing offshore by the boat launch
on Rafferty Dam when the clouds rolled in. They packed up their gear and
traveled home, and they saw the funnel clouds forming as the reached the
overpass that crosses the Dam. Katsantonis then started to take pictures. Katsantonis
estimates that the tornado struck about 25 kilometres west of Estevan,
between Outram and Rafferty Dam. It was the first full-fledged tornado
Katsantonis had witnessed. "I've seen a lot of funnel
clouds around Estevan, but usually just small, little skinny things,"
said Katsantonis. "This is the biggest one I've ever seen up close
and actually got pictures of. It was a little bit freaky at home and the
wind picked up. Your adrenaline gets going."