SIOUX VALLEY DAKOTA NATION — Two people were taken to hospital and at least five families were evacuated from the community after a severe storm system, that spawned a probable tornado, ripped through the region destroying one home and causing minor damage to several others on Thursday evening.
The storm system, which tracked its way through a large swath of Manitoba’s southwest corner, came with 100 km/hr winds, hail and severe rainfall.
Sioux Valley is located about 80 kilometres southwest of Brandon.
At about 6:20 p.m., Candace Tacan’s five-year-old son Denzel raced into the living room of their Sioux Valley home and told his mother that it had begun to rain "really hard." Turning around, Candace said the sky outside had turned a weird shade of white.
"He went running out to the garage, and I yelled at him to come back," said Tacan, who was still in shock from the ordeal. "I went running to the back and the house was already just shaking. I grabbed him, and then both doors — it happened really quick. Both doors of the house went flying open. I looked and the garage just took off. It was gone."
It was then, through the open south-side door she was desperately trying to close, that Candace says she saw the tip of a funnel cloud.
"It wasn’t touching (the ground) but the tip of it was just outside our south door," she said. "I tried to run in and throw everything out of the cellar but it was too late already. It was too late to even get in the cellar. It had already went by. It happened within a matter of seconds."
Tacan, her son and her husband live up the street from Lorna Hotain, who was inside her home with her boyfriend Dave when the winds lifted up her residence and slammed it back onto its foundation.
"I saw, like around 6 o’clock, (the tornado) was like going up and just started twirling. I saw it flying," said 11-year-old Ladaeyah Mazawasicuna, who watched the storm through a window in a neighbouring home. "I saw the house go up and come down."
The home was well off its foundation, and the roof of the residence had been completely torn off. Debris lined the yard and road, and power lines to the home were down. The apparent tornado cut a line down the valley where other residences were damaged as the high winds stripped shingles off roofs.
Cpl. Kristen Tompsett with the Dakota Ojibway Police Service confirmed that two people were inside the destroyed home at the time.
"They’re seeking medical attention right now. Both of them seem to be fine," Tompsett told the Sun.
Moments after the storm had passed, Candace noticed that Norma Hotain and her boyfriend were walking outside their home. Hotain was injured and her boyfriend was in shock. She ran outside and helped the two of them into her living room while her husband called 9-1-1.
"She was already falling right close to the house," Candace said. "Her leg and her wrist are pretty bruised. Dave her boyfriend looked pretty shocked too. I brought her inside, put blankets on her and tried to calm her down."
A man at the scene who identified himself as Lorna Hotain’s brother told the Sun she had broken her leg.
Sioux Valley Chief Vince Tacan said a number of homes lost power from the storm, and a couple of them had enough damage to make them unlivable until repairs are made.
Chief Tacan confirmed that neither the Hotein residence or Candace Tacan’s residence have insurance, so the band will be contacting the federal government for aid sometime this morning.
"CMHC units are insured, but we carry no insurance on band units, so we will have to look at another source to replace that house if possible."
At least five families were en route to Brandon hotels last night and will be evacuated here for the rest of the weekend.
"We’re grateful that no one was killed in this whole thing," Chief Tacan said. "The damages that were there were just unbelievable."
There were also reports of 100 km/h winds in some rural areas, including Hamiota and CFB Shilo. In Shilo, high winds uprooted or damaged at least 100 trees on the base’s golf course, with further tree damage within the Shilo community and nearby Spruce Woods.
Shilo Country Club general manager Scott Ramsay says the course will be closed today as crews begin to clean up.
"We could use some volunteers with chainsaws," Ramsay said. "A body’s not going to do it, but a chainsaw will help for sure."
Environment Canada meteorologist David Baggaley said a cold front that swept the province last night caused a lot wind damage in the region. As of last night, he could not confirm the presence of a tornado in Sioux Valley, but with reports coming in, he said the damage was caused by a "probable" tornado.
"We can’t confirm it was a true tornado until we get someone out there," he said. "Definitely some of these thunderstorms packed a wallop with these strong winds."
This severe weather event comes just days after a possible twister caused major damage to the community of Pipestone, also just west of Brandon.