A caretaker at Cow Lake Campground wants to have all the sites open by today, after a storm late Sunday night into early Monday morning sent two people to hospital, felled trees onto trailers, trucks and tents and dropped hail the size of “a hard ball.”
“There wasn’t a trailer or vehicle that didn’t have damage,” said Neil Williamson, caretaker of Cow Lake Campground. He said 60 to 80 trees came down and many tree tops were knocked off. “You could see a distinct path through the campground.”
The campground, located 18 km southwest of Rocky Mountain House on Hwy 752, has around 120 sites. At the time of the storm, Williamson said most — if not all — sites were filled, in many cases with more than one trailer or tent.
He said one person suffered a back injury when a tree came down on the camper’s tent. The camper was transported by STARS to Edmonton. Another camper also had to be taken to hospital due to unspecified injuries from the storm. Williamson said he has been trying to get an update on how both campers are doing, but hasn’t yet found out how they are recovering.
He said the worst of the storm lasted about an hour. He couldn’t even leave his trailer for the first 20 minutes because the wind was so strong it was pushing his door shut. He has been told they may have experienced “a microburst,” which is a severe down draft of wind that is virtually unpredictable.
Williamson said everyone pulled together and got the injured out. There were three ambulances, around four fire units out of Rocky and four Rocky Mountain House RCMP vehicles that came to help after the storm on Monday.
The cleanup has been going on all week, with more than 30 people on site, including many Alberta Sustainable Resource Development staff helping in the cleanup. Two dump trucks, two hoes and a loader have all been used in the cleanup.
A portion of the campground has remained open, but Williamson said he thinks they should be able to finish the cleanup and have the whole campground open by noon today.
The campground has been open since 1987. It is owned and operated by Clearwater County and managed by the Hardendell Community Association.