Numerous families camping at a Saskatchewan provincial park this Canada Day long weekend were left on edge after a severe storm rolled through the area.
The storm hit on June 29 while many families and individuals had taken to Meadow Lake Provincial Park to enjoy the holiday weekend.
According to Environment Canada, a severe thunderstorm made its way through the Murray Doell Campground. Two tornadoes passed near the camp, one to the north and the other south of the campground.
Donald Achanga was at the park on a shared lot with his spouse, two children, a friend of theirs and the friend’s daughter.
Speaking with Global News on Tuesday, he said they had decided to head to the beach because it was a hot day. But that’s “when everything went sideways,” he said, and rain and hail began falling.
With “marble-size to golf-ball-size” hail raining down on them, the group took shelter in a gazebo, Achanga said.
WATCH: Cleanup begins following storm at northern Saskatchewan campground
In a video taken by Achanga, he can be seen looking to the camera and making what he called a “warrior cry” as a way to provide comic relief for the children, who were getting scared.
As time passed, however, he said the hail started coming into the gazebo and so the group created added a barricade using a picnic table.
“We were thankful that that gazebo held up,” he said. “It was like a bomb went off. Just pure devastation.
“If we didn’t have that gazebo there, we would probably not be telling the story today.”
Once things calmed down, Achanga said they made their way back to their camper while also checking tents and other campsites and trying to help others.
WATCH: Driver attempts to navigate falling trees as severe weather hits Saskatchewan provincial park
Craig Eling experienced the storm differently as he raced in his vehicle to get back to his family.
Eling said he had driven away from his family’s tent to get firewood before the rain started after noticing thunder and lightning. His wife and two children stayed behind to set up sleeping bags.
It began to hail as he was driving, he said, but Eling thought he could still grab some firewood. However, the weather took a turn for the worse.
“The hail sounded like gunshots ringing off the top of the van,” he said. “I thought I was just going to get back to the campsite.
“I was worried the hail was going to come through the tent.”
When he was about 200 metres away, with trees blocking his way, Eling says he got out of the car and began running in the hail towards his family’s tent.
Eling said he had to jump over trees and run through campsites, but when he got to their lot, he saw that while trees were down at the campsite, none had landed directly on the tent and his family was safe. Though, he said, his children had been screaming.
“My four-year-old thought I was dead,” he said. “They were just screaming for me, and all I could think about was getting back to them.”
His family was then able to take shelter in their neighbour’s trailer until the storm passed. They later went out to see how they could help others caught in the storm.
WATCH: Environment Canada investigating possible tornado at northern Saskatchewan campground
Both families told Global News they were thankful they were safe but also that no deaths and only minor injuries were reported despite two tornadoes passing nearby.
“It’s kind of a surreal feeling,” Achanga said.
They also commended first responders and volunteers who helped those impacted by the storm.
Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Prairie and Arctic Storm Prediction Centre continues to investigate the tornadoes.
—With files from Global News’ Thomas Piller