‘Our whole backyard is destruction’: Kent Bridge residents hit hard by bad weather

Kent Bridge, Ontario was hit by a severe thunderstorm on July 28, leaving damage throughout the neighbourhood. Photo by Michael Hugall)

A powerful storm ripped through Chatham Kent on July 28, leaving some Kent Bridge residents convinced that they were hit by a tornado.

“I think [Environment Canada] got it wrong because there is no way a wind shear would twist those trees in our back area, that strong,” said Tina Pinto. “Our property is destroyed and it has to come out of our pocket.”

A tornado warning was sent out Sunday night in a storm which knocked down several trees in Chatham-Kent and prompted a tornado warning. Environment Canada meteorologist Dave Rodgers told Blackburn News the agency received reports of strong wind, heavy rainfall and marble-sized hail, but no funnel clouds were spotted.

Pinto isn’t buying it. Her 12-acre property is littered with discarded branches, heavy trunks and twisted branches. Luckily no one was injured during the storm, she said.

“We saw a great big white wall which looked like a tsunami, coming toward us so we booked it to the basement,” she said. “There are a lot of unsafe trees with a lot of damage and branches hanging so it’s a dangerous area to be walking around so we can’t even use our own backyard like we used to.”

Pinto and her husband Richard Rickman are now on the hook for roughly $10,000 to $20,000 of clean-up which they will have to pay out of pocket because their insurance doesn’t cover the property.

Despite the recent hardships, Pinto faired better than her neighbour who had two trees crash through the roof of their home. No one was home at the time, and no injuries were reported because of the incident.

“I just hope that everyone who endured this storm was safe, that nobody got hurt and hopefully people are helping out,” said Pinto. “That’s the main thing, everyone in our neighbourhood was safe.”

Retired meteorologist Geoff Coulson said the difference between determining a tornado or powerful wind gusts comes down to where the debris is and how many kilometres the destruction travels.

“If most of the damage has been pushed over into one direction… that speaks more to a downburst or damaging wind event,” he said. “If the path of damage is relatively narrow and the damage is scattered… that speaks more to the possibility that it was a tornado.”

Environment Canada is still looking into the data of the severe storm on July 28, but as of now the damage caused by the storm seems to be consistent with a burst of damaging wind, said Coulson.

Anyone inquiring about damage or who would like to send pictures to Environment Canada can email Onstorm@Canada.ca