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Hail, hail go away

Posted on July 11, 2013 by Taber Times

It’s as if Mother Nature got her seasons all mixed up Friday night, as Taber residents were almost knee-deep in a winter wonderland, smack dab at the beginning of July. A freak hail storm hit the town almost relentlessly to kick off one of Taber’s busiest weekends, as surprised residents and out-of-towners visiting for the Southern Alberta Summer Games ran for cover to seek shelter from the storm. Luckily, the deluge only lasted about 20 minutes but for many residents the aftermath is extremely wet and has caused havoc in households and farms with massive flooding and damage.

Summer has indeed not been kind thus far to southern Alberta these past few weeks.

Dents, dings, soggy basements — are the norm, it seems this summer, as well as more devastation in other areas of the province.

“Certainly, Friday night’s storm, I would categorize it as a violent storm.

I know at our place we had about 1.8 inches of rain in about 20 to 30 minutes. I think the combination of wind, hail and rain certainly was an interesting combination, to say the least. I know at our place I think with the hail coming down and kind of blocking the down spouts and eavestroughing and with the rain I know that it was spilling over the eavestrough and I can’t remember that ever happening before. Fortunately, the stones were of the smaller size but there was certainly many of them and I think most people in the community suffered some sort of damage that was their flowers, their plants, their trees — I know that some people ended up with water in their basements which they’ve never had before and I think it was just one of those storms that we’ll remember for a while,” said Ray Bryant, mayor of Taber.

Bryant added he’s not exactly sure about the rural areas, as he realizes the storm seemed to angle across Taber where the north side was bombarded with more of a violent aspect of the storm, compared to the south side of town.

“I know that the north side of town, some of the farmland and east of town, took a real hit. When you talk about a few flowers and plants that’s pretty minor compared to the damage that was done out in the rural area,” said Bryant, who kept in touch with town administration during the brunt of Friday’s freakish weather event. Town Chief Administrative Officer Greg Birch said it was along 60 Ave and 64 Ave that seemed to be a lot worse than other areas south of town. “We’ve done a safety impact review of the town facilities and there doesn’t seem to be any major damage to any of our buildings,” said Birch.

“Epcor and public works were all out tending to our storm catch basins and trying to ensure that the water was flowing as best as possible but when you get that kind of rain in a very short period of time it certainly does pose problems. Our staff were out and about doing what they could to try and make sure that it was flowing as best as possible,” said Bryant.

With the Summer Games held this past weekend in town, Bryant noted water got into the arena under the ice surface with close to an inch of water on the floor in the arena Friday evening. “The recreation department was up all night cleaning up and trying to ensure that ball hockey was ready to go for 9:00 a.m. the Saturday morning. With our staff trying to take care of the Summer Games facilities, our public works crew out and about on the streets at some of our areas prone to more collection — they were out and trying to do their best job that they could do,” said Bryant.

Birch said public works crews were out until approximately 1:00 a.m. Saturday morning blocking roads and picking up tree branches and debris off the roads after the storm. According to a long-term employee, who initially assessed the arena situation, water was coming in through the back door where the zamboni enters and exits and the drains in the area had plugged with debris. “Employees spent to about 6:00 a.m. or 7:00 a.m. Saturday morning pumping that out,” added Birch.

On the emergency services side of things, Taber Police Services Chief Alf Rudd reported the hail storm resulted in a higher than normal number of calls on the 9-1-1 line, as alarms were affected due to power outages and electrical shorts taking place.

“The fire department was kept very busy dispatched when property was in jeopardy. Alarm calls were checked out by police patrols. We provided extra staff on a short-term to ensure response times were the best we could muster. The storm abated itself rather quickly and calm was restored once people were able to assess their homes and property. There were no reports of injury,” said Rudd.

“Other than that short-lived period of high activity, it was business as usual,” added Rudd.

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