Edmonton

Edmonton to remember dark day in 1987

Edmonton will mark a dark anniversary Tuesday with a memorial in the trailer park ripped apart by a tornado 20 years ago.
A photo of the tornado taken from an office building on 98th Avenue and 50th Street. (Courtesy: Robert den Hartigh )

Edmonton will mark a dark anniversary Tuesday with a memorial in the trailer park ripped apart by a tornado 20 years ago.

More than 300 people were injured and 27 killed when the tornado struck the city on July 31,1987.

The tornado was on the ground for about an hour, leaving a trail of destruction 40 kilometres long and up to a kilometre wide in some places, causing an estimated $330 million in damage.

More than 300 homes were destroyed and hundreds more were damaged by strong winds and hail.

A memorial service will start at 3 p.m. Tuesday at the Evergreen Mobile Home Park in city's northeast.The trailer park was hard hit by the tornado, which took the lives of 15 residents and destroyed more than 100 homes.

The service will be held in a special garden where a tree stands for each of the 27 victims of Edmonton's worst natural disaster.

"It was a great loss to many, many families in Edmonton — to many families in northeast Edmonton in particular. It gives people an opportunity to reflect, to have a good memory about what was before, but also to look to the future," said MLA Dan Backs.

Municipal and provincial leaders gathered Monday morning to assure the public that much has changed in the last 20 years.

Municipal Affairs Minister Ray Danyluk said many lessons were learned from the tragedy.

Advancements in Doppler radar, the establishment of an emergency public warning system and a new Alberta agency dedicated to emergencies mean that the province can deal more effectively with the threats posed by tornados, he said.

Danyluk said he is still looking for better ways to alert the public.

"What we're studying [is] how we can intercept cell phones, BlackBerrys, all those different areas," he said. "Our technology is changing so quickly and that's why we're saying we need to progress."

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