Editor’s note: a previous version of this story gave the wrong name for the fire chief of Redwood Meadows Emergency Services. Global News regrets this error.
A wind warning remains in effect for parts of southern Alberta even as residents survey damage from an overnight windstorm.
Environment and Climate Change Canada said damaging westerly winds near 140 km/h were expected in the foothills and taper to around 100 km/h as they headed east.
“Winds will begin to weaken this evening but remain gusty into Thursday,” the federal weather office wrote Wednesday morning.
Following high winds Tuesday night, downed trees and power outages were reported in Bragg Creek.
One man was killed trying to clear up debris after the wind storm.
Rob Evans, fire chief of Redwood Meadows Emergency Services, told Global News a tractor rolled over the man on a West Bragg Creek property.
RCMP would only say the death was not criminal in nature and was not suspicious.
Alberta Health Services EMS said it received a call to attend a private residence in Redwood Meadows at around 9:30 a.m. and when crews arrived, they determined a person was deceased.
Area resident Brian Hodgkins said wind was still blowing in the area Wednesday morning, “but not crazy like last night.”
“At about 7 o’clock this morning I went out and had a look around,” Hodgkins told Global News. “There were trees down across vehicles. There’s a house that has a tree on top of it. At the end of my road there are power wires.”
Chelsea Dinel’s Bragg Creek home was hit by a tree by winds that kept most of the family up during the night.
“My partner didn’t wake up but my mom and the baby definitely spent most of their night up just because a tree fell (on a part of the house) near their bedroom,” she said.
Dinel’s home is outside of cell service, and her water is pumped via electric pump from a nearby river.
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“So no water, no power, no cell service, no heat, nothing,” Dinel told Global News. “We have a wood burning stove that we lit this morning and luckily today it’s only 10 (degrees) above, so we kind of lucked out there.”
Fortis Alberta reported multiple power outages affecting communities immediately west of Calgary starting Tuesday evening with restoration efforts continuing into Wednesday.
Fortis was also responding to wind-related outages in Fort Macleod, Pincher Creek, Cardston and Magrath.
Stacy Atwood of Cardston said she’s used to the wind in the southern Alberta town.
“But I have never felt wind like that. Nobody was sleeping last night,” she told Global News.
“About 1 o’clock, 1:30, I posted on social media — I just asked, ‘Is anyone sleeping?’ and nobody was sleeping.”
Atwood described the sound of the wind as “unbelievably frightening” and when she looked out her front door, she saw a neighbour’s tree had been blown over.
At around 5 a.m., her family was woken up by an RCMP constable saying they had to evacuate as a tree hit nearby power lines causing a fire.
Atwood and her children drove around town during their two-hour evacuation period, noting 75 downed trees, a church steeple blown away and lost business signage, among other damage.
“And then you see the town public works crew in their bucket truck, going up in wind that’s still crazy to cut the tree away from the power lines so that we could go back on with their life is really amazing.”
Semi-trucks were seen tipped over on Highway 2 near Claresholm and Stavely, and at least one structure suffered damage in the same area.
Dan Van Meer’s fence in Fort Macleod was destroyed by the wind. He noticed after he let his dog outside in the morning at about 6:15 a.m.
“About 20 minutes later I realized: ‘The dog’s not barking to come in yet.’ So I grabbed a flashlight and I went out in the yard and … he was gone. Me and the wife hopped in our vehicles and were running around looking for him. We weren’t the only ones. There was a lot of people driving around with their four-ways on.”
He said Fort Macleod “looked like a war zone, almost. Branches, shingles, lots of shingles everywhere.”
Van Meer already has plans to clean up.
“My buddy owns the house next door so we were already talking this morning, we’re going to tackle this fence, then we’ll tackle that one.”
— With files from Erik Bay, Global News
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