Saskatchewan

'That campground, it's gone': Tornado hits Meadow Lake Provincial Park in Sask.

Residents living near a provincial park in northern Saskatchewan reported seeing a tornado hit the area Saturday, uprooting trees, damaging trailers and apparently forcing residents to flee a nearby subdivision. 

'My poor children were screaming and terrified and we were all yelling that we loved each other,' said camper

Barry Butler, who was in the Lauman's Landing area at the time, said he saw trailers flipped and crushed in the aftermath of a tornado in that area. (Submitted by Barry Butler)

Residents living near a provincial park in northern Saskatchewan reported seeing a tornado hit the area Saturday late afternoon, uprooting trees, damaging trailers and forcing residents to flee a nearby subdivision. 

Barry Butler, who works with a property development company at Lauman's Landing, a subdivision with recreational vehicles and cabins near Meadow Lake Provincial Park, 360 km north of Saskatoon, said he was stuck in the middle of the storm. 

"There's ... lots of damage throughout the whole subdivision," he said.  

Butler said there are 200 lots in the subdivision and it was full for the long weekend. He said he saw trailers flipped over or crushed by trees. He said he heard of a few injuries but didn't know to what extent. 

These images were Saturday, just before the severe weather swept through the region, and shortly after the tornado touched down near the Murray Doell Campground on Lac des Îsles in the Meadow Lake Provincial Park. (Submitted by Genia Aasen)

In a tweet sent out just before 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, STARS Air Ambulance said they were being dispatched to Meadow Lake.

On Saturday night, the Saskatchewan Health Authority confirmed three people had been transported to hospital with non-life threatening injuries following a severe weather incident at the campground. 

Dave Hill, fire chief of the nearby village of Goodsoil, said everyone who was at the campground had been accounted for as of late Saturday. He said a tornado touched down in the area and he's not aware of any fatalities, only some injuries. 

Kara Perpelitz, who lives in Goodsoil, has been kept up to date about the effects of the twister by her husband who works with the volunteer fire department. 

"To use his words, it's flat. I don't know if you know much about the Meadow Lake Provincial Park but it is all trees and it's basically the boreal forest." 

Perpelitz said people are being taken out of the area on buses and they've opened the Goodsoil Town Hall as a place where evacuees can stay. 

"Hopefully, they can get most of the people out, if not all of them, before it gets dark," she said. 

Genia Aasen said the storm came on suddenly when her family was returning from the beach. (Submitted by Genia Aasen)

Genia Aasen was in the Murray Doell Campground in Meadow Lake Provincial Park when she said the storm hit. Her family was visiting from Cold Lake, Alta., to camp.

It started out small, then picked up, she said. When the large hail started dropping, she said she yelled at her children to get inside. While they were inside, the camper moved about two feet and the supports were broken. 

My poor children were screaming and terrified and we were all yelling that we loved each other and I think we all thought we were done.- Genia Aasen, camper

"I yelled for all of my kids and my mom and my husband 'Everybody get up to the front of the camper' because the big tree in our campsite looked like it was going to come down in the middle of the camper." 

Her children— a nine-year-old, a seven-year-old and a four-year-old— all crowded together in the front bedroom. 

"My poor children were screaming and terrified and we were all yelling that we loved each other and I think we all thought we were done." 

Before the storm hit, they were at the beach, she said, and some people were still there when the storm hit. Aasen said the site has been declared an emergency zone and everyone was forced to leave the area. 

"It's pretty chaotic," Aasen said. "That campground, it's gone. The campground is totally gone and it's going to take a long time to clear out those trees."

Genia Aasen said officials declared the site an emergency zone and were moving people out of the area. (Submitted Genia Aasen )

Environment Canada said they do not have enough information to confirm if it was a tornado that hit the area or a severe wind event. Witnesses say they saw funnel clouds, although plough winds, another storm weather phenomenon known for striking larger areas than tornadoes, can do similar damage.

Tanner Skoretz was in the campground when the storm hit. He said the family wasn't in their trailer when it was crushed by trees. (Submitted by Tanner Skoretz)

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