Jenny Nelson was at the movies with her kids when her phone started going crazy.
Her Ever-Green Greenhouses staff told her to come right away.
She wasn’t ready for what greeted her as she pulled into the second-generation family business at 39th Street and Range Road 270 just east of Red Deer.
“We came out last night after the wind had settled down to a complete and utter disaster,” said Nelson.
Large greenhouses were tossed about and left in tangled heaps of mangled aluminum, the poly plastic covering shredded. Part of the metal roof of one of her buildings ended up in the ditch on the other side of the road.
Nelson said in 38 years in the greenhouse business the family has never seen such destruction.
“There’s never been any damage like this.”
Of the 31 metal-framed greenhouses and three main greenhouses, all but five will have to be replaced, she believes.
Initially, she estimated abut 60 per cent of her greenhouses were trashed. After a closer look on Wednesday, she’s upped that estimate to 80 per cent.
“Just as we walk around, there’s just more and more and more. It just keeps building up.”
The worst damage she’d had previously happened just last week when one of the smaller greenhouses had its plastic ripped off. Staffers were upset by that level of damage.
Nelson is insured and vows to rebuild. She is even keeping her retail shop open until early next month so customers can still grab their garden flowers.
Not far from Ever-Green Greenhouses are other signs of the wind’s force. In a row of grain bins, one lay on its side. Out in the field, another grain bin sat in a crumpled heap.
Southeast of Red Deer, a shop for A&J Piano Services was hit hard.
“There’s a lot of damage,” said owner John van Arragon, whose shop is about five km from Red Deer. “The whole roof is gone off our shop. It’s hanging in the trees.
“It looks just like Pine Lake did,” he said, referring to the aftermath of the 2000 tornado.
Van Arragon and his staff were busy moving about 20 pianos out to another shop before another storm blew in.
Southeast of Red Deer, at Pine Lake’s Green Acres campground a single holiday trailer out of the roughly 400 on site toppled over.
Most of the damage was limited to broken trees and branches.
In Sylvan Lake, there was plenty of tree damage and 600 homes were still without power on Wednesday morning.
“Lakeshore Drive probably hit the worst,” said town communications officer Joanne Gaudet.
Shingles had been ripped off one lakeshore restaurant and another had lost some of its roof and siding.
Gaudet said she had no reports of damage to the marinas or the many boats tied up there.
Red Deer Airport, where wind gusts of 111 km/h were recorded, reported relatively little damage.
A tree came down but there were no reports of damage to aircraft, said Kayla Smith, director of airport development, communications and marketing.
In Red Deer County, crews were out at parks and county-owned lands cleaning up debris.
Other than the greenhouse and piano shop, there had been no other reports of significant damage by Wednesday afternoon.
In Lacombe County, a few downed trees were reported but no significant damage had been reported. See more online reddeeradvocate.com