Rapid City, Man., family describes tornado touchdown; state of emergency declared

A Manitoba family from Rapid City is thankful they’re all right after what was likely a tornado touched down on their property Sunday night. Brittany Greenslade reports.

A Manitoba family from Rapid City is thankful they’re all right after what was likely a tornado touched down on their property Sunday night.

“You hear this awful whistle and you can hear the roof being peeled off the house and you gotta stay calm for the kids, ’cause I know what’s going on, but I can’t tell them what’s going on,” said Carley-Jane McDonald.

“My husband was a mile away watching the whole damn thing.

“He saw the tornado come across our property and hit another property, so he then had to drive 10 miles back around just to see if we were OK.”

At one point, her husband ended up stuck in their truck with a log beneath it, “the same type of scene as in Twister,” she said.

“They were able to get off and turn around and able to come get us. We were OK, we were safe in the basement, thank God — just terrified watching it and listening to it all.”

Farmer Steve Garbutt told 680 CJOB his farm, east of Rapid City, was also hit hard by the possible tornado, including multiple buildings being overturned or blown away.

“Everything’s gone,” said Garbutt.

“There’s two steel sheds — one was a heated shop — they’re both gone. There’s four bins that are gone. Any old sheds… they’re all gone.”

Garbutt said a Quonset building on his property has also disappeared: “I think it went east.”

Storm damage east of Rapid City, Man.

Storm damage east of Rapid City, Man.

Greg Mackling / Global News

Historic storms

The Rural Municipality of Oakview declared a state of emergency Monday as record-breaking rain flooded the RM and the damage to roads became worse.

RM of Oakview CAO Marci Quane posted on the Rapid City, Manitoba Facebook group that the municipality is urging residents to stay home as cleanup begins.

“We can assure you that we have had our crews working throughout the night and will continue to work at marking all dangerous areas,” she wrote.

Read more:
Cleanup begins as storm, probable tornado topples barns, floods streets, hospital in southern Manitoba

“We hope you are all safe, and we thank you for your patience during these trying times.”

RM of Oakview reeve Brent Fortune called the damage to the area “devastating.”

“It’s not a pretty sight in some of the farmyards, is what I’ve heard,” the reeve said.

“People put through the years of hard work, and then in one split second, it’s gone.”

Global News can confirm the dam in Rapid City has been damaged and has washed out.

A historic series of storms swept through the area Sunday afternoon, drenching the RM, several towns and the city of Brandon.

In Brandon, the official rainfall total was 155 millimetres, easily breaking a 118-year record of 141 millimetres on June 1, 1902.

Brandon Mayor Rick Chrest told 680 CJOB the storm was “like taking water from a fire hose and trying to put it through a drinking straw.”

“We’re just kind of figuring out the aftermath right now, but it’d be safe to say there will be hundreds of homes and businesses impacted by this,” he said.

“It’s certainly an unfortunate situation, for sure, and we know that many in western Manitoba are experiencing this.”

Chrest said the city activated its emergency alert system, a rare occurrence.

“We have a series of towers throughout Brandon that can deploy an emergency alarm followed by a vocal message,” he said.

“There had been some very ominous rotating clouds in the area, so we were wanting people to be watching out for the possibility of tornadoes.

“It’s one of the first times we’ve had to activate that emergency alerting system other than doing our monthly testing, so that was a little different and probably scary for Brandonites as well.”

Chrest said more rain is expected to hit the already saturated city in the coming days. He’s encouraging Brandon residents to help city crews by removing any debris in front of homes or catch basins.

As of 8:30 a.m., about 4,000 Manitoba Hydro customers were without power.

Hydro spokesman Bruce Owen told 680 CJOB that getting a sub-transmission line, which supplies power to four area substations, up and running could help a lot of customers.

“Our challenge — last night, especially — was getting to the hardest-hit areas,” he said.

“Around 10:30 p.m. we had to call it down, get the guys off the road, just because it was too dangerous.

“At first light today, we’ve been out assessing damage in areas we can access.”

People in the rural areas outside of Brandon may be harder to reach and slower to get back online, but Owen said Hydro expects to have everyone back up by the end of the day.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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