Residents living near a provincial park in northern Saskatchewan reported seeing a tornado hit the area Saturday evening, uprooting trees, damaging trailers and apparently forcing residents from a nearby subdivision to evacuate.
Barry Butler, who works with a property development company at Laumans Landing, a subdivision near Meadow Lake Provincial Park 360 km north of Saskatoon, said he was stuck in the middle of the storm.
“There’s … lots of damage throughout the whole subdivision,” he said.
Butler said there are 200 lots in the subdivision and it was full for the long weekend. He said he saw trailers flipped over or crushed by trees. He said he heard of a few injuries but didn’t know to what extent.
Kara Perpletz lives in the nearby village of Goodsoil, roughly 355 kilometres north of Saskatoon. Her husband is part of the volunteer fire department and out at the site where the twister touched down. He’s been keeping her updated and said to expect a bus load of people needing somewhere to stay.
“To use his words, it’s flat. I don’t know if you know much about the Meadow Lake Provincial Park but it is all trees and it’s basically the Boreal forest.”
Perpletz said people are being evacuated on busses and they’ve opened the Goodsoil Town Hall as a place where evacuees can stay.
“Hopefully, they can get most of the people out if not all of them before it gets dark,” she said.
In a tweet sent out just before 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, STARS Air Ambulance said they were being dispatched to Meadow Lake.
Genia Aasen was in the Murray Doell Campground in Meadow Lake Provincial Park when she said the storm hit. Her family visiting from Cold Lake, Alta., to camp.
It started out small then picked up, she said. When the large hail started dropping, she said she yelled at her children to get inside. While there, the camper was moved about two feet and the supports were broken.
My poor children were screaming and terrified and we were all yelling that we loved each other and I think we all thought we were done.– Genia Aasen, camper
“I yelled for all of my kids and my mom and my husband ‘Everybody get up to the front of the camper’ because the big tree in our campsite looked like it was going to come down in the middle of the camper.”
Her children— a nine-year-old, a seven-year-old and a four-year-old— all crowded together in the front bedroom.
“My poor children were screaming and terrified and we were all yelling that we loved each other and I think we all thought we were done.”
Before the storm hit, they were at the beach, she said, and some people were still there when the storm hit. Aasen said the site is declared an emergency zone and everyone was evacuated. Officials were doing head counts and there were still people missing, she said.
“It’s pretty chaotic,” Aasen said. “That campground, it’s gone. The campground is totally gone and it’s going to take a long time to clear out those trees.”