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Rainstorm slams Windham Centre, large tobacco acreage destroyed

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A heavy rainstorm that whipped through the region on Aug. 17 appears to have been most intense in the Windham Centre area.

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Trees and crops northwest of Waterford were damaged, with the area worst hit being a large acreage of tobacco beside Win-Del Park on Nixon Road.

“Mother Nature – she’ll clean your clock,” said Steven Pereira of Windham Centre. “It was raining very heavy with small hail and heavy, heavy winds from the north. The wind had to be over 100 clicks (km-h).

“We’ll be destroying 110 to 115 acres.”

He said his family has grown tobacco for 31 years. This is the first time severe weather has taken a big bite out of the operation.

“This is the first tobacco we’ve had to disc under,” said Pereira, adding he has 85 acres left to carry him through the harvest.

Delhi Coun. Mike Columbus said that vegetable growers in the LaSalette area were also hit.

Agricorp insurance adjusters were at the Pereira farm on Aug. 20. They gave approval for Pereira to chop down the shredded tobacco, which was mature and ready to harvest.

Regional manager Neil Bossuyt said at the scene that Agricorp has been notified of other damage in the vicinity.

“This is the worst right here,” Bossuyt said. “Other people have had other crops affected but they’re working through it. He (Pereira) asked for a cut-down and we’ll allow it.”

Agricorp compensation for tobacco is based on a farmer’s average yield over 10 years, with coverage available in the range of 75 to 90 per cent based on a price-per-pound set at the start of the growing season.

The Long Point Region Conservation Authority said the rain occurred when local streams, creeks, rivers and aquifers were at dry-weather lows for the season. As the rain came down, LPRCA issued a request that all water users – including farmers – think conservation until the precipitation returns.

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Craig Jacques, LPRCA’s water resource specialist, said the Aug. 17 rain was uneven across the watershed.

“The rain was quite variable (Monday) afternoon, with some locations experiencing little or no rain,” he said in an email.

“I’ve heard reports of up to about 65 millimetres (in the) Port Dover area.

“Localized areas that received the most rain appear to be (in) a band between Delhi and Hagersville, including the Waterford, Simcoe and Port Dover areas. We recorded around 40 millimetres in both Simcoe and Waterford.

“We’ve also heard reports of up to around 25 millimetres in parts of the Municipality of Bayham (in Elgin County) and the Township of Houghton. Lesser amounts were recorded outside these areas.”

Those who received the most rain will benefit from it, said Jacques, adding it is unfortunate the storm missed the upper reaches of Big Otter Creek and the headwaters of Big Creek. Jacques said there would have been downstream benefits throughout the watershed had the rain fallen in these areas.

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