Homeowners clean up in North Sauble after tornado lands

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Linda Russell was alone in her home on the north end of Sauble Beach on Wednesday afternoon when the wind picked up and what looked like hail started hitting her home.

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Although she had no warning, the 75-year-old knew exactly what she needed to do and she headed to the basement just in time as one of the white pine trees that overlooks her house crashed through its roof.

“I was at WalMart in Owen Sound when she called me and said, ‘I think the house is crashing on me, I’m scared,’ then she called 911,” recalls her husband Bob on Thursday as Linda rested. “I went straight home and I’m not going to tell you how fast I went.”

Bob Russell said when he returned home the area was already cordoned off with ambulances, police cars and fire engines. He was devastated by what he saw. Three large pine trees have been snapped and now rest on the roof of his house and on his back patio and gazebo. The chimney of the house was knocked down and several branches pierced the roof, one branch pierced it “like an arrow” directly into the bedroom of the house.

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But the Russells have every intention of repairing the damage because they love the area and love their home.

“Everyone walks by and says I love your house,” said Russell, who has lived in the house for 19 years. “They’ll love it again when I fix it.”

Bob Russell stands outside his home on the north end of Sauble Beach near the Sauble River, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022, the day after a suspected tornado ripped through the area Wednesday afternoon, snapping trees and damaging houses.
Bob Russell stands outside his home on the north end of Sauble Beach near the Sauble River, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022, the day after a suspected tornado ripped through the area Wednesday afternoon, snapping trees and damaging houses. Photo by Rob Gowan The Sun Times

Russell was home Thursday inspecting the damage and awaiting the arrival of a cleanup crew. He said his wife, who was badly shaken by the ordeal, spent about six hours in hospital where she was examined.

The Northern Tornadoes Project, based at Western University, had a survey team in the area Thursday.

NTP’s David Sills said via email later that day that a waterspout had made landfall and caused damage to trees and residences. The estimated maximum wind speed was 125 kilometers per hour, which corresponds to an EF0 tornado on the enhanced Fujita scale. An EF0 has wind speeds between 90 and 130 km/h.

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The tornado moved inland about five kilometers but was less than 50 meters across, Sills added.

Dramatic images and videos on social media showed a large waterspout over Lake Huron along Sauble Beach and in the Sauble River area.

A waterspout over Lake Huron at Sauble Beach on Wednesday August 31, 2022.
A waterspout over Lake Huron at Sauble Beach on Wednesday August 31, 2022. Photo by Kristibeth Kelly photo

Trees had fallen on both sides of the river Thursday and crews were busy clearing chainsaws. Damage appeared heaviest along Sauble Falls Road in the area of ​​a municipal parking lot, which is across from the Russell House. There were also downed trees and toppled planters in homes along Gremik Crescent, three blocks east, while trees were splintered and toppled in an area along Sauble Falls Parkway even further to ballast.

Sue Thom, whose home overlooks the Sauble River, was one of the people who captured the storm in all its glory as it crossed the mouth of the river.

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Thom was sitting at her kitchen table doing crafts when she just looked outside and noticed the sky looked different.

“I grabbed my phone and walked out and just started filming it,” Thom said. “It was a lot of noise. You could hear the banging as we were on deck and he was coming.

Video captured by Thom showed objects swirling in the wind. You can also see a flock of birds being tossed about. At one point in the video, people can be seen passing between Thom and the Storm on paddleboards.

Thom said she loves taking pictures of her home where she has lived for 23 years. She thought the storm looked harmless enough when she filmed it. Sometimes it seemed to die out, but then it would pick up again.

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As the storm approached, Thom, his son Eric and his dog Diesel went to the bathroom on the opposite side of the house the storm was coming from and away from the 16 windows that overlook the river.

“It was crazy,” she said. “At one point it was coming right at us and we were like, ‘OK, time to go. “”

Thom thinks the storm made landfall between the two houses just upriver from his. Two large trees fell on her patio, but left her home unscathed.

After the storm passed, Thom went to the Russell’s house and comforted Linda until help arrived. She said the most important thing was that no one was hurt by the storm.

“The majority of people weren’t home, but everyone got together, helped each other and looked after their properties,” she said. “A fire broke out along one of the side roads where a tree fell on a power line, but it didn’t take long for police, ambulances and fire trucks to get here.”

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Harry Holst leans against a stand of cedar trees that were heaved off the ground and pushed against his home on the north end of Sauble Beach near the Sauble River Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022, the day after a tornado landed suspected in the area on Wednesday afternoon, snapping trees and damaging homes.
Harry Holst leans against a stand of cedar trees that were heaved off the ground and pushed against his home on the north end of Sauble Beach near the Sauble River Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022, the day after a tornado landed suspected in the area on Wednesday afternoon, snapping trees and damaging homes. Photo by Rob Gowan The Sun Times

Harry Holst, who lives next door to Thom with his wife Kathy, said they were in Tobermory when the storm hit. They returned home to find that a large cedar tree had been knocked over and was resting on its house, with the ground around the tree peeling away. They also lost a few shingles, but the damage seemed minor.

“We are very lucky,” Holst said. “At this point, I arranged for a group of trees to come and get rid of all these trees.”

Further inland along Gremik Crescent, Mary Rowe was clearing small branches in the backyard of the house she shares with husband Allan, while a tree removal crew cleared a large tree that had fallen over the attached garage of their house. Although they wouldn’t know for sure until the cleanup was complete, damage appeared to be minor to some shingles, soffits and gutters.

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The Rowes had been cycling in the Meaford and Thornbury area and were on their way back in their vehicle traveling along Spring Creek Road when they noticed a funnel cloud over the fields. At the same time, they received a phone call from a neighbor telling them that there was a tree on their house.

“It was pretty intense activity when we got here with people coming down and taking pictures,” Rowe said. “I was a bit in shock, but I felt more sorry for my next door neighbors because they had suffered a lot of damage to their property. We were lucky that their house was not damaged and that there was no more damage in our garage and we are lucky that no one was injured.

For the Rowes, it was actually the second time a tree had fallen on their home during a storm. The same thing happened to their Burlington home in 2009, but it caused much more damage as it entered directly into one of their bedrooms.

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“It is not foreign to us. I think we got lucky this time around,” Rowe said.

South Bruce Peninsula Fire Chief Tim Wilson said in a news release late Thursday afternoon that their Sauble Beach station was dispatched to the north end of the beach community around 3:40 p.m. about the possible tornado. There was sporadic damage over a stretch of around two kilometers, with damage reported to several homes due to downed power lines and large tree branches.

The OPP, EMS, Hydro One and Enbridge Gas were also at the scene.

“The resources of the Town of South Bruce Peninsula were able to meet the needs of the community without requiring assistance from neighboring communities,” the statement said.

The fire department has encouraged residents and visitors to carry a 72-hour emergency preparedness kit containing basic supplies that may be needed in the event of a power or water outage. faucet for an extended period.

Information and resources are available online at www.southbrucepeninsula.com/emergencyplanning/

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