While the few tornadoes in Saskatchewan didn’t cause much damage, another tornado ripped trees from their roots, downed power lines and threw small planes around like toys south of the border in Plentywood, Montana.
Taylor Ordahl is a photographer who lives in Plentywood, a town of about 1,500 people, which appeared to take a direct hit.
She and her family made it home from the lake just in time to watch the storm. While they knew there were tornado warnings for the area, she didn’t get a sense of how close it was until they started driving around in the aftermath with trees, downed power lines and debris scattered everywhere.
While heading out to the small airport to see the damage, Ordahl said they had to get out and walk because there were power lines down across the road.
“You could smell propane, which was kind of scary, and you could see the storms building up again in the background on the horizon,” Ordahl described.
“As we got closer, we could see all the hangars are pretty much destroyed and gone and every plane up there is overturned and destroyed and covered by all of the downed hangars and rammed into each other and just beyond repair. It was really very heartbreaking to see.”
She and her family made a run back to their pickup truck and eventually shelter under a gas station as they were pelted by ping-pong sized hail.
When the storm let up, Ordahl continued the drive through town and saw her friend’s family was hit hard. One vehicle was completely destroyed.
“It had giant planks of wood piercing all the way through it,” she said. “They had a big fifth wheel camper that just looked like a big flatbed (trailer) all tossed on to the side of the road.”
That wasn’t even the worst part of the damage.
“The back of their roof was torn off and a house nearby – it was a little trailer house – was completely wiped away,” Ordahl said.
Thankfully, as of Tuesday, she hadn’t heard of anyone local being hurt in the storm.
They also saw the destruction of the local fairgrounds with grandstands twisted and tossed into the arena.
A day later, Ordahl drove out to check on her family’s farmland near Outlook, Mont.
“There’s grain bins out on one of the back roads that were picked up and tossed and thrown into a coulee along with someone’s pickup and the whole front of it was smashed in – it was pretty sad to see,” she described.
As of Tuesday at noon, to her knowledge, the communities of Plentywood and Outlook in Montana were both still without power. Ordhal said many people are heading to nearby cities to find hotels.