Eganville – Heavy winds accompanied by a torrential downpour uprooted several trees and damaged four or five recreational trailers at Smith’s Bay Campsite last Thursday afternoon.
The storm hit the area about 4 p.m. following several days of intense heat that saw temperatures rise to 33C.
Glen Smith, who along with his brother, Grant and sister, Sandy owns the park, said the storm lasted between five and 10 minutes.
“It started in the north,” he said, pointing to the lake, “and you could see the waves working their way across. There was rain behind it and then all of a sudden, the wind changed and took it to the east. About two minutes later, the wind started up in the southwest and hit this part of the park.”
Mr. Smith said four or five trailers were badly damaged when struck by falling trees and branches and a few more received scratches. Smith’s Bay is home to 130 permanent trailers with another 10 sites for off-road travelers.
“It could have been a hell of lot worse,” Mr. Smith said. “But this is the first time since I’ve been here in 33 years that we’ve had any major damage to trailers. We’ve had windstorms and a few sticks come down and damage to the roofs of porches, but other than that it hasn’t been a problem.”
Mr. Smith said the important thing is no one was hurt.
“We’ll get it cleaned up in a little while and things will be back to normal,” he said Friday morning.
Fortunately, the storm hit on a weekday when fewer people were in the park. Many of the seasonal owners live in Renfrew County or the Ottawa area and travel to the park for the weekend.
A couple of large cranes were brought in on Thursday and several poplar trees that were uprooted and had landed on trailers were cut and cleared away. Local contractor John Reinert used his excavator to remove tree stumps. Several campers joined in helping with the clean-up efforts Friday and by the end of the day it was hard to tell a storm had passed through the previous day.
Grant’s wife, Sheila, manages the campground and she expressed her gratitude on behalf of the family to everyone who pitched in for the clean-up.
“Everybody really stepped up to help out and we appreciate that,” she said. “I just want to thank everybody for their help.”
Well-known musician Dave Souliere of Brantford, who has been a part of the Smith’s Bay camp family for many years, watched the storm with others from inside a log cabin on the property.
“We watched trees go down, trying to make sure that no one was in the way of harm,” he said.
“And it’s a blessing.”
Mr. Souliere pointed to the rear of a trailer owned by Colin and Allyssa Rabishaw of Laurentian Valley that was crushed by a tree.
“There are two little children that would have been in that trailer and that’s their bedroom in the back, so it could have been a lot worse than what it is,” he said. “This stuff can be replaced, but the important thing is there was no one hurt, no injuries and I am glad to see that all the campers got together and helped clean up the damage.
“A lot of people are coming in tonight or tomorrow; they won’t even realize a storm was here.”
Cheryl White of Pembroke had a perfect view of the storm hitting the park. She watched as some trees bent in the wind and others came crashing down.
“Actually, I was going to get on the floor because the roof on my trailer was starting to lift and so was the trailer too,” she said.
Mr. Souliere said the storm, which he described as a microburst, lasted about 10 minutes.
Smith’s Bay Campsite has been in existence since 1962 and was operated for many years by the late Sid and Eileen Smith. Today, it is owned by the couple’s four children: Glen, Grant, the late Garry and his family, and Sandy.
The storm also caused minor damage in other areas of the east side of the lake and several trees between the lake and Highway 41 were brought down by the wind. One tree fell across the highway and blocked the southbound lane until a maintenance crew removed it.