In the aftermath of what he calls the worst storm to hit Saugeen Shores in decades, fire Chief Phil Eagleson says the sounds of roaring chainsaws and gas-powered generators filled the air in pretty much every corner of the town.
“It was eerie because there were no streetlights on,” he said Friday, three days after the storm slammed the Lake Huron community, snapping and uprooting trees and knocking out power.
Heading into the weekend, Eagleson said the town was in good shape as all power had been restored and roads reopened.
That was made possible, he said, thanks to the hard work of residents and Saugeen Shores’ public works and emergency crews and utility workers and assistance provided by neighbouring municipalities.
Arran-Elderslie, Brockton and Kincardine each sent public works staff to the town to help with cleanup efforts.
Eagleson, who is also Saugeen Shores’ community emergency management co-ordinator, said about half of the town’s roads were left unpassable after the storm due to fallen branches, trees or hydro lines or other debris.
The final blocked road was cleared Thursday, he said.
The storm caused damage throughout the town, from the bridge on the north side of Southampton to Gobles Grove in the southern end of Port Elgin.
The worst destruction was at the Port Elgin marina, where entire docks were heavily damaged, and North Shore Park, an old grove cedar park near Port Elgin’s main beach.
“We’re going to have weeks and weeks of recovery in that area,” he said.
“This is the worst storm we’ve seen in Saugeen Shores in the past 20 years.”
Ann MacKay, owner of the Lakeshore Recreation Banquet and Fitness Facility in Port Elgin, was among those who had to pick up the pieces after the storm ravaged her business.
About a third of the facility’s roof ripped open in the storm, causing heavy rain to pour in and flood both the upper and main floors.
Fallen trees and strong winds also caused extensive damage to the outdoor areas, including the tennis and pickelball courts.
The storm was the latest setback for Lakeshore Recreation, which was forced to close three times, for extended periods, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
MacKay, who has owned the business with her husband for 38 years, said the facility had just reopened for a third time at 6 a.m. Tuesday. Hours later, she would have to close it again because of the storm damage.
She said she’s unsure when she’ll be able to reopen. Work is underway now to dry the place out, she said.
“It’s very stressful and very difficult to handle,” she said Friday.
The facility is a hub in the community, she said, “and without it, a lot of people will miss the social and health aspects of the recreational facility.”
Tuesday’s storm also battered Huron-Kinloss, where an EF-2 tornado was confirmed by the Northern Tornadoes Project at Western University.
Municipal officials say the storm tore through the township, producing heavy rainfall, high winds and hail that resulted in downed trees, power outages and minor property damage. No injuries were reported.
Tracey Howe, the municipality’s health and safety co-ordinator, said all roads in the township had reopened and all power restored by Hydro One and Westario Power by Friday.
Environment Canada says a line of thunderstorms roared eastward over Lake Huron from Michigan and arrived on the Lake Huron shoreline in Bruce and Huron counties around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.