Hailstorm damages over $100,000

July 12 saw the University of Calgary struck by a sudden hailstorm that ripped through campus, damaging vehicles, facilities and the biological sciences greenhouse on the roof of the Science A building.

The afternoon storm brought down golf ball sized pieces of ice that decimated the greenhouse, which lost virtually all of the glass on its north side and half on its south side, forcing the facility to close.

“Risk management has basically been trying to secure the site and make sure that it’s safe for people to go in there,” said U of C media relations officer Grady Semmens. “There’s been basically nobody allowed in, not even researchers, until it’s been considered totally safe.”

Semmens said most of the studies in the greenhouse were for student related projects, as plants used in staff research are typically kept in growth chambers in order to keep them under constant environmental conditions.

According to reports of those involved with the clean up, the majority of the lab and class related plants for student experiments have survived.

“It sounds like a lot of the plants have survived and are okay,” said Semmens. “Although people weren’t allowed to get in there to take the plants, they did continue to be watered by the rain.”

No one was injured by the breaking glass, but one injury was reported to the wellness centre. A woman suffered a cut to her head and required stitches.

Many students on campus also suffered damages to both their vehicles and themselves.

“I went out after class and my car was pretty much demolished,” said student Carly Murray. “My windshield was smashed and the whole side panels and everything, it was pretty bad.”

“I was in-between Haskayne and my car and it just looked like it was going to rain so I walked outside,” said student Lindsay Bruce. “It started going down, it was bigger than golf balls and it was hitting me so hard, so I put my hands up over my head.”

Bruce suffered welts and a broken knuckle trying to shield herself from the hail as she ran back to her car for cover.

“It was like one of the scariest things I’ve ever had happen to me,” said Bruce.

Excluding the greenhouse, most of the damage concentrated on 55 university vehicles as well as windows and landscaping.

“They’ve been, of course, very busy doing a lot of the clean up — the branches and that sort of thing that were impacted by the hail,” said Semmens. “They figure that we’ve lost about half of all the leaves from the trees so that’s pretty substantial.”

Many trees may risk poor health or death due to the loss of so many leaves during a crucial growing season. Crews will be monitoring the continued health of the trees and removing leaves and branches to ensure storm sewers don’t clog.

Total damages are still being assessed by the school, but the initial figure is upwards of $100,000, with the majority of costs resulting from the greenhouse.

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