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Dryden man lucky to be alive after wind destroys building with him inside

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Dale Berrey didn't end up in Oz, but he now has some idea how Dorothy felt.

Berrey, of Dryden, was in a metal building with a concrete floor when all of a sudden a strong wind, which he believes was a tornado, hit and destroyed the structure -- with him inside.

"I was lucky," Berrey said on Saturday evening, shortly after the wind struck.

"It could have been worse. Nobody got hurt. It's all property damage. And I have insurance so I'll come out OK."

Berrey was at a former equipment rental facility about two kilometres east of Dryden when "I just saw a bad weather system developing. I thought I'd go check our vacant building.

"When I was inside, I could tell it was going to be severe. I went to a safe location in the building -- a door frame inside because the building is on a concrete slab and there's no basement -- and waited."

Berrey said almost right away a strong wind hit the 15 metre by 30 metre building.

"It lifted the whole building four to six feet off the ground," he said.

"Then the building dropped, and the back part broke off and blew away. Even the doorway I was in went up. I thought this wasn't a very safe place, but I couldn't run. There was debris flying everywhere.

"Then it stopped and I was looking up at open sky instead of a roof."

Berrey said he believes he was struck a glancing blow by a 2-by-4 wooden board, but he didn't need to be hospitalized, just checked over by an ambulance crew.

But Berrey knows how close he came to being hospitalized -- or worse.

"I saw two by fours driven in a wall like a spear," he said.

"That could have been me."

Meanwhile closer to home, a funnel cloud, but no tornado, was spotted near Arborg on Saturday.

Environment Canada meteorologist Dan Fulton said a tornado watch was issued for the RM of Bifrost, which includes Arborg, Hnausa, Riverton and Hecla, at about 4 p.m.

Fulton said it was the same weather system that sparked several tornadoes in Saskatchewan on Friday.

He said a funnel cloud was spotted about four kilometres northeast of Arborg, located about one hour north of Winnipeg.

The watch was removed with no tornado being seen around 6 p.m.

Meanwhile, Environment Canada issued a strong wind warning on Saturday night and through to today for both Lake Winnipeg and Lake Manitoba.

The wind was expected to increase to 20 knots on Saturday night, but drop to 15 knots before this morning.

Environment Canada predicted the wind would be light through the day, but then increase back to 20 knots by tonight.

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 17, 2012 A6

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