Debbie Doell photo

PHOTOS: Extensive damages across the region in wake of July 30th storm

Local woman injured by hail in West Stettler Park during violent afternoon storm

Stettler residents are assessing the damages after being slammed by an extremely destructive hail storm July 30th.

“I was actually outside, and was going to be teaching an outdoor fitness class for the Performance (Health and Fitness Centre,” said Shannon Rost. “When I initially looked outside in the afternoon, I thought this is perfect! It’s beautiful out; I posted on Facebook that it was a beautiful night for an outdoor class.”

When she arrived at West Stettler Park, she noticed the darkening skies.

“I thought we can handle a little rain. We are tough! We were under the gazebo and we were just going to get started. I thought this doesn’t look good at all – it got really black.

“I said, we better get out of here. So we gathered our stuff, and we just got out from under the gazebo and it just pounded down hail. We had our workout clothes on and we were just running, making a bee-line for our vehicles,” she said. “I got pounded in the head and all over. I got back to my vehicle, and I realized that I was bleeding. There is blood everywhere – I have a massive goose egg on my head.

“I’m like, oh my God – where am I bleeding from,” she recalled.

“I was looking for something to put on my head to stop the bleeding, and then realized I had dropped my phone as I was running.”

She grabbed a piece of chalkboard, put it over her head and scrambled out of the car to grab the phone which amazingly wasn’t damaged.

Rost also was hit in the elbow, which today is swollen as well.

“I have welts all over my legs – it was painful,” she said. “My house and garage are pretty much destroyed also.”

Meanwhile, local officials are checking out the damage to property as well.

“We’ve just been in contact with all of our department heads,” said Niki Thorsteinsson, director of communications with the County of Stettler.

“They are out surveying all of our equipment and all of their fleets because besides the County of Stettler fleet we have agriculture services and all of their trucks and equipment.

“You can imagine how much equipment is under our care.”

Thorsteinsson, who lives just outside of Stettler, said the storm didn’t hit her property too badly. “But when I spoke to some people, they said what they noticed first was the sound. One girl said the first thing she heard was this noise.

“Is there a freight train coming, or a wind? Then they realized it was a storm and they all high-tailed it inside as fast as they could.

“Someone said she got her car into the garage but then she couldn’t get her garage door to close because the hail kept knocking off the sensors because it was flying into the garage. The door wouldn’t shut,” she said. “She also said the hail was of such a size that the gravel was bouncing up.

“The side of her house, which faces west, took quite a hit. And as you go down the street and come around the corner, all the houses that face west – their windows are smashed out and the siding is damaged. It was crazy.”

Winnie Bissett, executive director of the Heartland Youth Centre, had just headed to the golf course for a round.

“We were just getting our groups organized to go out and we thought we should just wait a few minutes,” she recalled. “It’s a good thing we did – the course is now closed today because of the damage.

“You could see this scary, kind of dark gray ‘shelf’ cloud. My husband, who was at home, got stuck in the garage because he was trying to cover up our plants. He said it was kind of a ‘whirring’ sound with the wind.”

Bissett’s garage, house and shed on the west and north sides have all been destroyed, she said.

“We had a really nice yard and not it’s shredded. Our truck, car and trailer are all damaged, too. But there are places in Stettler that are a lot worse off than us. We drove around last night, and there are living room windows broken and trees down.”

More to come.

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Debbie Doell photo

John Kisser photo

Winnie Bissett photo

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