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Carstairs Tornado | Facebook

From Ruins to Rebirth: House Raising After Carstairs Tornado

When a tornado struck, Carstairs locals didn't just stand by, they rolled up their sleeves and got to work

Albertans and Manitobans tie as the top givers in Canada. We give the most per capita to charities. Our friends and family in Saskatchewan and Alberta also have the highest rate of volunteerism in Canada.

Albertans come out on top overall for their combination of monetary donation and time spent volunteering, so it should come as no surprise that folks came together to build a new home for Elisa Humphrey outside Carstairs to replace one destroyed in the Canada Day tornado.

On Canada Day, a powerful tornado struck near Carstairs, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.

According to Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), it was the province’s strongest tornado since the infamous “Black Friday” tornado hit Edmonton in 1987. 

With wind speeds reaching a staggering 275 km/h, the tornado, rated as EF-4, wreaked havoc as it moved across a 15-kilometre path, causing damage to homes and properties.

The tornado’s impact was significant, damaging 12 homes, three destroyed and four deemed uninhabitable.

One of the destroyed homes belonged to Humphreys, who lived in a mobile home.  

Because mobile homes sit on wooden blocks instead of a concrete foundation, insurance coverage was denied. 

Humphreys also lost one horse and two cats to the tornado.

But the community knew exactly what to do to help the suddenly homeless Humphreys.

They contacted Winnipeg-based Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS), who responded and engaged their Alberta chapter to build Humphreys, a completely new house from the ground up for Humphreys and her married son and his family.

Elisa Humphreys with MDS project manager Harold Friesen and Elisa’s son and family at the ground-breaking for their new home |
Elisa Humphreys with MDS project manager Harold Friesen and Elisa’s son and family at the ground-breaking for their new home |

Community Spirit

The Carstairs community responded immediately in the aftermath of the tornado.

Hundreds of volunteers worked tirelessly for more than a month in conjunction with local and provincial companies and aid organizations to clean up after the storm.

Within a month of the tornado, the community rallied to support those affected and organized a remarkable fundraising event for the tornado victims called the Mountain View Tornado Benefit Concert.

By the end of the event, neighbours had raised an astonishing sum of over $100,000, 

Now, the community is raising a roof for Humphreys. 

The rebuild started in October, and again, hundreds of volunteers have stepped up to help. Local companies have donated thousands of dollars of supplies and labour.

Nearing Completion

All the walls and the roof are up, and there is heat in the building, so with all the help, the house is well on its way to completion.

At the construction site, Humphreys and her family have written a message on a whiteboard, which reads in part: “Hello everyone. We just wanted to say thank you to all the organizers and volunteers. You are all amazing people giving your time and money like this.”

The new Humpreys’ house just before Christmas | Facebook
The new Humpreys’ house just before Christmas | Facebook

Help Out

If you are interested in helping, you can donate cash for supplies to MDS here, or you can sign up to volunteer at the Carstairs Tornado Facebook Page.

From the floods of 2013 through the wildfire evacuations of this summer, Albertans continue to show their amazing generosity to those in need.

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