Blasting winds wreak havoc in Pangnirtung

“Three-quarter inch sheets of plywood flying like Frisbees”


Winds gusting as high as 140-kilometres per hour tore the roof off a five-plex housing unit, flipped over a car and sent boats flying through the air in Pangnirtung Nov. 27.

“I was awakened at about 3 o’clock Saturday morning by a gust of wind that was so strong that it literally moved my bed inside the house,” said Ron Mongeau, the hamlet’s senior administrative officer. “That’s what woke me up.”

Municipal crews had a hard time responding to the damage, thanks to slippery roads caused by temperatures that hovered around the freezing mark combined with hurricane-force wind gusts.

Mongeau said a hamlet truck he was riding in during the early morning hours caught a piece of debris in the back window, which shattered on contact.

“It was really quite impressive,” Mongeau said. “There were some really strong gusts of wind, water spouts, debris flying all over, three-quarter inch sheets of plywood flying like Frisbees.”

The windstorm, a symptom of the unusually warm November in the South Baffin region, ripped the roof off one five-plex and caused severe damage to another.

Both buildings were under construction, but Mongeau said extensive damage to other houses has left “under 10” people temporarily homeless.

Wind also knocked out power to large sections of town and interrupted cable TV and telecommunications services.

A news release from the hamlet said power wasn’t fully restored until the afternoon of Nov. 28, when crews from Qulliq Energy Corp. arrived on a charter flight and got the lights back on in a section of town north of the Duval River.

Mongeau said damage to municipal equipment was minor, but several homes reported broken windows and toppled oil tanks.

He said most of the debris came from poorly stored construction material that blew around town and was promptly covered up by a layer of snow.

But several private boats anchored in the fiord were severely damaged and will probably be written off.

Some boats were swamped, while others “went flying 30 or 40 feet through the air,” Mongeau said.

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