Mobile homes ruined, roads ripped up by wicked storm that struck Rapid City, Man.

By | June 29, 2020

A series of thunderstorms — including a tornado — plowed through southwestern Manitoba over the weekend, leaving wreckage in its wake.

A meteorologist with Environment Canada confirmed Monday evening a tornado touched down just southeast of Rapid City, Man., at approximately 4 p.m. on Sunday.

On Monday, clean up crews in bright orange gear were out fixing hydro poles and lines in the town, while trucks dumped gravel and front-loader tractors smoothed over ruined roads.

Steve Garbutt operates a farm east of Rapid City, which is located 31 kilometres north of Brandon, Man., in an area hit hard by the very strong winds, torrential rains and rising waters the storm dumped on Sunday.

“I guess a tornado hit, by the way the trees are snapped over,” he said during an interview on Monday.

Steve Garbutt said it looked like a tornado swept through his property east of Rapid City on Sunday. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

A member of the local fire department had contacted him to ask if anyone was living a couple of mobile homes on his property that were demolished in the wicked weather. Now Garbutt and others in the area are in clean up mode.

“You’re just sick to your stomach. You don’t know where to begin,” he said.

A steel shed turned into an insulated shop and another shed used for cold storage were completely wiped out, and five grain bins were yanked out of the concrete holding them down, Garbutt said.

He found a big hunk of scrap metal from one of the sheds resting on top of a truck in his yard.

RCMP said they did not receive any calls related to the weather or storm damage by Monday.

WATCH | Sifting through the damage:

A massive clean up is underway in western Manitoba as a series of storms ploughed through the area Sunday. 2:31

Darcy Robins said he has not seen a storm this bad in his 20 years living in the area. He said the water went up five or six feet around his place.

“Everything is wrecked in town, like it’s bad. The roads are all destroyed [and] the trees,” he said.

Some debris hung from branches, massive trees looked like they had been ripped out of the ground and some gravel roads that dried up after the water all pooled together on Sunday had resembled a beach around his place by Monday.

His firewood was floating around in the flood waters, and the children’s trampoline stuff was effectively trampled. The family’s backup generator provided power into Monday due to a power outage on Sunday.

Much like the his neighbours in town, his basement flooded with ankle-deep water and the sewer backed up. The lower-level carpet, couches and some drywall and baseboards will need to be replaced, he said.

Robins said a dike on the Little Saskatchewan River that runs though town had been knocked down and taken away by the flooding.

“I mean some of the rural people, their houses are completely gone,” he said.

The stormy weather toppled over grain bins. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

Buildings and shops in town were also affected by the storm.

Robins said he did not see a funnel cloud on Sunday. It was dark when the storm hit, and the rain was coming down fast and hard — too quick for the culverts along the road, he said.

Post-storm cleanup

The rural municipality of Oakview declared their own state of local emergency, which the reeve said grants additional authority and funding under the Emergency Measures Act to deal with the post-storm cleanup for two weeks, or longer if they request an extension.

Brent Fortune said Manitoba Infrastructure and Environment and Climate Change Canada were participating in a teleconference call earlier on Monday to discuss the cleaning and rebuilding phase.

“A real wet mess,” he said.

Fortune said Rapid City took the brunt of the damage, he said. Several highways and roads in the area are under water or washed out.

Reeve Brent Fortune said the rural municipality of Oakview has entered a state of local emergency due to storm damage. (Walter Bernal/CBC)

But it’s not his first rodeo. It reminded him of a major washout that racked up about half-a-million dollars in damage back in 2005. Fortune said it is tough to estimate the cost of cleanup and repairs this time around before digging in and closely examining the water flow.

“We’re been through it in the past, and we’ll probably be going through it in the future,” he said. “I guess it was our turn again.”

Flooding in town has taken out chunks of roads and backed up sewers, he said.

“It’s not a good situation,” he said.

Manitoba Hydro crews were busy repairing and replacing downed power lines and poles on Monday around Rapid City, Man. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

In a Facebook post, chief administrative officer Marci Quane had asked property owners to avoid pumping water from basements and other fixtures into the sewer because the water infrastructure was unable to handle increased flow.

Residents were dismayed by the destruction but at least no injuries have been reported to the reeve.

“That’s the main thing. You can’t replace people, but you can replace infrastructure,” Fortune said.

He said people in the area are bracing for more threatening water as heat, high water and winds persist in the region.

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