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Homes damaged after vicious storm rips through southeastern Alberta on Monday

Click to play video: 'Southwestern Alberta storm destroys homes, kills livestock' Southwestern Alberta storm destroys homes, kills livestock
WATCH: We are getting a closer look at the devastation left behind from a massive storm that tore through Cypress County in southern Alberta, Monday. As Dallas Flexhaug reports, several homes have been destroyed and it will be some time before we know the true extent of the damage. – Jul 19, 2022

No injuries or missing people had been reported as of Monday afternoon, but Redcliff RCMP said its officers and other emergency responders are fielding calls about damaged homes as a result of a “possible tornado touching down” in southeastern Alberta.

Police said they received a report of an overturned motorhome on Highway 3 as well as “residential structures being damaged along Highway 523 in Cypress County.”

“Several road closures remain in place throughout the county and motorists and the public are asked to avoid the area,” the RCMP said in a news release. “Anyone affected by this incident is asked to contact the Cypress County Office in Dunmore.”

Drone imagery from a home and yard destroyed by a storm that ripped through Medicine Hat and the surrounding area on July 18, 2022. Derek Brade, Global News

An EMS spokesperson told Global News 10 houses are believed to have been affected but everyone is currently accounted for. As of 2:18 p.m., there were no active patients and no one has been transported to the hospital. The RCMP said shortly after 5 p.m. there were still no injuries reported.

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Additional units were en route to do door knocks and check on residents in the area, the EMS spokesperson said.

Global News spoke to Sharon Gopaul late Monday afternoon. She owns a boarding facility for cats and dogs that is located across the river from Redcliff on Highway 523.

“It came in really fast,” she said of the storm. “All of a sudden the sky was black and the winds were insane. I looked out my window and I couldn’t see outside. It was just so windy and so rainy.

“I had stuff on my deck I had to go move around because it was flying everywhere. I lost several plants that went flying off the deck.”

A view of an area by Highway 523 near Redcliff, Alta., on July 18, 2022. A powerful storm ripped through the region, damaging a number of homes. Courtesy: Sharon Gopaul

Gopaul described the wind as “wild.”

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“It was intense,” she said. “I had a tree that fell down.”

READ MORE: Tornado touched down near Bergen, Alta. Thursday; RCMP say homes damaged in Sundre area

Gopaul added that she has been hearing about significant damage to homes.

“I hope they get everything sorted out — I hope everybody’s OK,” she said.

Brendan Palmer and his wife have a home being built along Highway 523 just outside of Medicine Hat.

Drone imagery from a home and yard destroyed by a storm that ripped through Medicine Hat and the surrounding area on July 18, 2022. Derek Brade, Global News

 

 

 

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They weren’t on the property when the storm hit, but six framers working on their house were there. They were inside a trailer when the storm unleashed its fury but made it out OK despite the trailer being seriously damaged. The home being built had walls up and windows in already but not after the storm had passed. A number of vehicles on the property were also damaged.

“Some people lost their house,” Palmer said. “At least we weren’t living in it.

“We’re living with my wife’s parents and their house is fine… Their shop is gone, but the house is fine.”

An alert was issued for Cypress County on Monday afternoon after strong winds touched down in that part of southeastern Alberta.

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A trailer, vehicles and a home under construction were all damaged on the same property just outside Medicine Hat, Alta., on July 18, 2022 after a powerful storm tore through the area. Dallas Flexhaug, Global News

According to an Alberta Emergency Alert, “dangerous and damaging winds” occurred in the area of Highway 523 and Highway 1 at approximately 1:50 p.m. and caused damage to homes and vehicles in the area.

Residents were asked to pay attention to funnel clouds and take precautions as required.

“Be prepared to seek shelter off the road if you are on the highway and cannot avoid the storm. Seek shelter in a ditch or ravine if a tornado approaches,” the Alberta Emergency Alert read.

“Seek shelter in a basement or reinforced structure.”

The alert initially came through as a tornado alert but was later revised to remove the term “tornado.”

READ MORE: 3 tornadoes touched down in Alberta in 1 day: Environment Canada

A severe thunderstorm warning was in effect for parts of southeastern Alberta on Monday afternoon. Environment Canada said its meteorologists were tracking a dangerous thunderstorm capable of producing very strong wind gusts, up to golf ball-sized hail and heavy rain. By Monday evening, all severe thunderstorm warnings in Alberta had been lifted.

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A view of an area near Range Road 73 and Township Road 122 in southeastern Alberta on July 18, 2022. A powerful storm ripped through the region, damaging a number of homes. Courtesy: Sharon Gopaul

On Monday afternoon, a spokesperson for Environment Canada said there was not enough information to confirm a tornado had touched down.

In an email to Global News, the press secretary for Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver explained why the word “tornado” was initially included in the emergency alert. Scott Johnston said the department had learned that wind “gusts up to 140km/h were reported.”

“The municipality did as they were trained and went with the best information they had available to them at the time,” he said. “As a result, a tornado alert was issued for Cypress County.

“After touching base with the ECCC (Environment Canada), the tornado alert was updated to an emergency support services alert and it was stated that ‘a storm with dangerous and damaging winds’ went through the area.”

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A photo of a log house west of Medicine Hat, Alta., on July 18, 2022. The home was missing its upper level after a storm tore through the area. Supplied: Global News

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Johnston added that alerts are issued for “fast-moving and time-sensitive events where initial available information may be imperfect.”

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“ECCC and Alberta municipalities have the ability to issue and revise Alberta Emergency Alerts under Alberta’s emergency management system as new information becomes available. There are over 800 users across Alberta trained to issue alerts on behalf of their communities.”

In an email sent to 770 CHQR, an Alberta Emergency Management Agency (AEMA) spokesperson reiterated the points made by Johnston and said the municipality issued the tornado alert with the best information they had available to them at the time.

About 7,338 people in Medicine Hat were without power early Monday afternoon, according to a tweet by the City of Medicine Hat at 1:49 p.m.

Shortly before 5 p.m., the city provided an update and said 5,600 customers were still without power in Medicine Hat, Cypress County and Redcliff, adding that some of the outages may not be resolved until Tuesday because it could be too difficult to assess all of the damage in the dark.

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The city asked that Medicine Hat residents “check in on friends and family without power to ensure they are safe and comfortable” and to avoid hooking up generators to homes because of safety concerns.

“Multiple power and distribution lines are down in the northeast and west rural areas of Medicine Hat, as well as damage in Cypress County and Redcliff,” the city said. “There are currently multiple downed power lines in Medicine Hat. Assume all lines are live. Stay at least 10 metres back from any power lines and call 911 if you encounter a downed power line.

“Box Springs Road to Canadian Fertilizer has live power lines across the road with no access in or out. Crews are working closely with area companies to ensure the safety and comfort of their employees.”

The city said its parks staff were assessing damage to Medicine Hat parks.

“It is anticipated that clean-up of tree branches and debris throughout our parks will begin on Wednesday after an assessment is completed,” the city tweeted.

A trailer, vehicles and a home under construction were all damaged on the same property just outside Medicine Hat, Alta., on July 18, 2022 after a powerful storm tore through the area. Dallas Flexhaug, Global News

On its Facebook page, the Town of Redcliff provided updates late Monday afternoon, noting the wastewater lift station in the northwest part of the municipality was “at capacity” and warned there could be “some sewer backup in the area.”

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“Town crews are working hard to rectify the situation,” the municipality said, adding power to the town was not expected to be restored on Monday and that the process “may take a few days.”

–With files from Global News’ Dallas Flexhaug and Carolyn Kury de Castillo

A trailer, vehicles and a home under construction were all damaged on the same property just outside Medicine Hat, Alta., on July 18, 2022 after a powerful storm tore through the area. Dallas Flexhaug, Global News

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