Few places around North Battleford bore the brunt of last Monday’s storm more than the farm of Ray and Linda Hebert.
The family was still in the middle of a big cleanup job last Wednesday afternoon and expected to continue for several more days as they recover from the vicious wind and lightning storm that tore through the Battlefords shortly before 10 p.m. June 25.
The Hebert farmhouse had much of its roof torn off, with several uprooted trees and about three bins got blown over during the storm. The roof was torn off the dining room area and made a hole in the living room, and water came down through the walls and into the basement.
“It was a lot of water that was in the house,” said Hebert.
The front of the house used to be surrounded by four trees, but those fell in the storm. Now the family has a clear view of the front yard – something they can’t quite become accustomed to.
Something also hit the front window and shattered it, and there was also damage to the garage. A wall of the shed was knocked and a few other items were tossed around outside. A cattle shelter that was picked up and laid down by the wind, Linda said.
In all, she estimates about 100 trees on the property were lost in the storm. That includes a few that were still standing but had been damaged so badly that they would need to come down.
“It’s going to take a couple of weeks to get the debris out of our yard,” Linda said.
Particularly mourned was the loss of a tree that was 60 feet tall and 100 years old that had been planted by her husband’s father and grandfather.
“It was like losing a family member,” she said.
The night of the storm was a scary one for Linda and her family. Linda hid in the basement, joining her daughter and two grandsons ,who had gone downstairs before the storm hit. Her husband and son-in-law were both working in Saskatoon when the storm hit.
Linda noted a noise was “very loud” and the trees were blowing everywhere, and could tell something bad was about to happen.
“I was there in the living room, and I ran,” she said, heading straight to the basement. The family members all hid in the shower.
“We knew something wicked was happening.”
Her husband, Ray, returned from Saskatoon to deal with the cleanup after getting the news over the cell phone.
While it is not confirmed what caused the damage, Linda is convinced it had to have been from a tornado.
“I have no doubt in my mind it was a tornado,” said Hebert. She noted trees were twisted off and things were all over the place, and thinks a plow wind would just have “pushed.”
“There’s a shed that was lifted up and plunked back down,” she noted.
Help has flooded in, with friends, neighbours, and relatives helping get the cleanup effort started Tuesday. A friend came over with a tractor and about seven or eight chain saws were running Wednesday to deal with the tree damage.
“There were probably forty or fifty people here yesterday,“ Hebert said. “People just showed up,” she said, and asked “what can we do?”
She was particularly emotional when she mentioned that one woman “showed up with two boxes of Tim Hortons coffee and two boxes of Timbits.” She called that the kindest thing.
Linda and the rest of the family were deeply moved by the assistance offered. “It’s just to show what Saskatchewan’s all about,” she said.
Somewhat less welcome has been the swarm of media that has descended on the hard hit farm property in the hours after the storm. Linda admits the media attention “kind of feels a little odd.”
But she’s comforted in the fact that her family is not alone in having to deal with a big cleanup.
“Everyone’s having to deal with the results of this storm,” she said, having gone into North Battleford and having seen the impact on the rest of the community.
Linda adds she feels sorry that she wasn’t able to help out others in the community in their own efforts to clean up. “When we get our yard done we’ll have to come and help others if there’s anything left to do,” said Hebert.