Three families along Highway 616, west of Millet, don’t know if it was a microburst or an unconfirmed tornado that hit their properties during the storm that roared through the region on Monday, July 23, around 4:30 in the afternoon. But, Reg and Cathy Minchau, Hank and Lizette Schrijver, and Jos and Dorthy Peters all count themselves fortunate that neither people nor animals were hurt. The storm damaged trees, lifted the roof from a cow shed with cattle in it, and tumbled boxes covering rhodiola seedlings clear to the neighbor’s quarter.
The Minchau Report
Reg was sitting in his pickup truck, waiting for the rain to abate to dash to the house, when he heard a roar. He felt the right side or the truck lift off the ground. He looked to the north to see the trees totally bent over. Then, he couldn’t see at all. “The rain was more than sheets of rain,” said Reg.
“It was more like a wall! I’ve never seen a wave of water like that!” The most visible damage sustained is are a couple of bent trampoline safety net poles and a wooden arch. “We’ll clean up, haul branches away. We’ll have firewood!” chuckled Reg.
Cathy credits God for sparing them more damage. Several trees were damaged—limbs snapped off, and at least three trees were uprooted. In each instance, the fallen trees narrowly, and some would say miraculously, missed the house and several items: the 20 ft. cherry tree split at the bottom and fell to either side of a lawn chair which remained upright; the 40-year-old blue spruce missed the house, the working hand pump over the cistern; the tree in the back yard missed a sixteen foot fence and the propane tank. “What if it had broken the propane line? God just laid it here and said, ‘I’m in charge!’” said Cathy. When the storm broke, Cathy was working across the road at the neighbor’s dairy farm.
The Schrijver/New Mars Dairy Report
Farmers are most appreciative of their excellent, dependable employees. Hank Schrijver was not at home when the storm hit, but he is thankful for the quick-thinking action taken by his employees—Connor, Brandon, Pascal, Jean and Cathy—to rescue several trapped cows.
Connor and Brandon, who moved from Ontario just one week ago, were mixing feed by the cow shed. “I was sitting in the loader,“ said Connor, “when this storm came out of nowhere! The rain was wrapping all around the loader, and the wind was moving it—this loader weighs 25 thousand pounds! The sky was overcast, a murky gray except for this black vertical strip in the middle.” He turned to drive back to the barn, and that’s when he saw the cow shed roof was down and knew animals were trapped inside.
Pascal had been milking when he looked outside and saw the trees spinning around (like propellers). He then describes the sky as turning all gray and you couldn’t see anything. He tells what happened next: “Connor saw the shed roof was down and got me to clean up the other side so we could get to the trapped cows.” Within five minutes, the young men got the wall at the end of the shed removed to free the cows walking along a pocket formed by the north cement wall which now holds up the dislodged roof. The two cows trapped under the lower leaning trusses were freed, and the men lifted near the middle of the shed roof to free one cow trapped there. The cows are close to calving. Connor noted that none of the nails on the shed are bent, they are all straight up.
Hank said when the animals were first freed, everyone wondered if there would be broken legs or bag injuries, but now the cows seem to be good. He credits a good pack of straw for helping reduce injury. The insurance company hasn’t been out yet so Hank doesn’t know the estimated damage done. He is just thankful. “We worry about people and the cattle. This is just a shed. It could have been way worse.”
The Peters/Lake View Farm Report
The Peters live and operate a Saskatoon U-Pick and Rhodiola farm to the west of the Minchaus and Schrijvers. Several vehicles sustained damaged—broken windows and rear-view mirrors—, and the power pole was leaning and the line went down when lids covering the rhodiola seedlings blew off and impacted them. “The barbeque flew away, and the horse shed suffered some damage.” Some lids ended up as far as the neighbor’s quarter. Dorthy said the estimated property damage is about $30 Thousand. “The plants are ok; they don’t like water and we are pumping water now.”