Windsor

Severe weather wreaks havoc on dairy farm in Lambton Shores

It was a frightening experience at a Thedford, Ont. dairy farm Sunday morning when a strong storm ripped through the farm and destroyed several structures.

Van Engelen Dairy Farms lost two structures and the blades off a wind turbine

Some of the damage caused by a tornado at Van Engelen Dairy Farms Sunday morning. (Submitted by Connie Van Engelen)

It was a frightening experience at a Thedford, Ont. dairy farm Sunday morning when a strong storm ripped through the farm and destroyed several structures.

"I wasn't thinking, I was just running," Eddy Van Engelen, owner of Van Engelen Dairy farm, said. "We were just shocked to see how much damage there was."

Severe weather prompted Environment Canada to issue tornado warnings across much of Southern Ontario but it could not immediately determine if it was a tornado that hit in the area of the farm or if it was just storm-force winds. 

The weather agency said a team from Western University's Northern Tornado Project will be travelling to the area in the coming weeks to help make that determination.

Van Engelen said he was expecting a storm, but not until later in the afternoon. He said the strong winds hit the farm at about 10 a.m.

"It was a total surprise to us. We didn't expect it."

Van Engelen said the storm was over within minutes, but it destroyed a dry shed and a dairy barn. It also snapped several trees, did some damage to a house and took the blades off a wind turbine that belongs to the farm across the road. 

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      "We have a lot of other barns, it actually just took our smallest barn," he said. "We're going to rebuild and it'll just take time, but the cattle will be fine inside the barn, I think, we just won't have a roof on it." 

      Thankfully, Van Engelen said, neither the five people who were at the farm when it happened, nor the up to 400 cattle were hurt.

      "I can't really say that I saw the tornado but it was very powerful winds," Van Engelen said. "I went inside a dry shed and looked back and everything was gone." 

      Following the storm, neighbours came by the farm to help with the damage, Van Engelen said, adding that the farm does have insurance that will hopefully cover the damage. 

      "It's still a disaster area, but we're piling it all up and I think by tonight, most of it will be cleaned up." 

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