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Western Canada dusts itself off after wild, windy weather leaves heavy damage

Clouds pass over grain silos in Manitoba in September, 2007. Strong winds were expected in Manitoba this week, where forecasters were predicting snow squalls and even a thunderstorm.

JOHN WOODS/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The winds have died down but now the cleanup has begun across Western Canada.

A nasty storm hit parts of the four western provinces on Wednesday and early Thursday, leaving a lot of damage in its wake.

In Saskatoon, the sound of hammers echoed up and down the streets as roofers were busy nailing shingles on new houses to replace those torn off by the high winds.

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Bob Thompson, president of Cactus Roofing in Saskatoon, said his phone hasn't stopped ringing.

In Foam Lake, Sask., the owners of the local hotel and tavern were picking up pieces of a tin roof that blew off the building right at closing time.

At Westeel in Saskatoon, the wind blew away the company's profits when it damaged 12 large grain bins ready to be delivered to customers.

"It has put us so far behind now, so we have to redo them all and we have these expensive units that are trashed," said Glen Miller with Westeel, adding each bin retails for as much as $25,000.

Miller said the bins have three concrete blocks attached to each of them weighing 300 pounds a piece. He said those acted like skates once the wind caught the empty bins.

"The wind was pushing them so hard, they were just sliding across the ice into other bins and once they hit the other ones they would topple over," he said.

Prince Albert Northern Bus Lines was left with wind-damaged buses after the roof blew off their Saskatoon storage facility.

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Three had to be pulled from service.

In Manitoba, where the storm continued to pack a wallop on Thursday, blizzard warnings were finally lifted by evening and many highways that had been closed were reopened.

In Alberta, RCMP had attributed at least two deaths to the blustery weather – one a motorist who was struck by another vehicle when his own got stuck in a ditch, and an 81-year-old woman who was killed in a collision on an icy highway.

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