Pipestone cleans up after possible tornado

PIPESTONE, Man. – Premier Greg Selinger visited the Rural Municipality of Pipestone again Monday after the community was hit by its second disaster in the space of a month.

Pipestone, which was hit hard by overland flooding at the end of June, is now cleaning up after a storm destroyed the community’s arena, took off part of the community centre’s roof, overturned mobile homes and camper trailers and downed trees and destroyed crops.

Environment Canada called it a “suspected tornado” and will work to confirm reports with eyewitness sightings.

“I think it was a tornado,” Reeve Ross Tycoles said on Monday morning. “It was a swirling wind and I think people were scared, but the greatest is they reacted — everybody went to basements. We got through it without anybody getting hurt, so it was pretty good.”

Selinger, who visited the community to see flood damage on Canada Day, toured the damaged area.

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The community of Pipestone was hosting its annual Fun Days and people were camping near the baseball park, Tycoles said, but even though some camper trailers were overturned, no one was hurt.

“They had cleared out that area and the local residents had taken them into their basements, and so again, it turned out far better than it could have.”

About 1,000 customers were without power after the storm, but that number was down to 15 to 20 houses, Tycoles said. The remaining homes will have to have an electrician’s inspection to make sure it’s safe to turn the power back on, he added.

Agricultural damages include crops destroyed by hail and the loss of graineries, silos and barns, Tycoles said.

The town needs people with chainsaws to help clear up remaining debris, he said.

“Hopefully by tonight it will be somewhat back to normal, other than losing a bunch of large trees and a couple of buildings.”

Pipestone is 275 kilometres west of Winnipeg.

In late June and early July, overland flooding hit the region, prompting the rural municipality to declare a state of emergency.

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