The past Sunday marked the one year anniv-ersary of the massive windstorm that destroyed more than a thousand trees in Navan and Sarsfield and leveled dozens of barns and other farm buildings, some of which had stood for more than 100 years.
|Wyatt McWilliam's 100-year-old barn was reduced to rubble after being hit by the derecho that swept through Navan and Sarsfield last year. FILE PHOTO
Wyatt McWilliams’ barn on Perrault Road south of Navan was built nearly 120 years ago. On May 21, 2022, it was reduced to little more than kindling in less than five minutes.
Gordan McFadden lost his barn as well, as did Wyatt’s cousin John McWilliams. John and Gordon both live on Trim Road, south of Navan.While the Nooyen family on Rockdale Road didn’t lose their barn completely, it was damaged to the point that it could no longer house their dairy herd. It was the same for the barn on the Cotton family farm at Trim and Navan Road and more than a dozen other barns between Navan and Sarsfield.
None, save for a smaller barn on McFadden’s farm, have been rebuilt and it’s now been a year since everyone learned the meaning of a new word: derecho. That’s the word used to describe a line of intense, widespread and fast-moving windstorms characterized by damaging winds.
And while most people in Navan and Sarsfield were able to move on with their lives in relatively short order after the storm, the farmers impacted by it have had a slightly more difficult time getting on with things, thanks mainly with having to deal with insurance companies on seemingly never-ending basis, waiting for estimates and finding contractors to rebuild.
McFadden is one of the fortunate ones. He was in discussions with a contractor to replace his main barn just days before the derecho hit. Once it did blow through and the damage was done, everything had to be put on hold to allow the insurance company to send in an adjuster, figure things out and start the claim process.
The contractor was at least able to pour the footings for the new barn in the fall. If all goes well, construction will begin this summer.
The Nooyens have not been so fortunate. After going back and fourth with their insurance company for months, they finally have settled on a contractor to rebuild their barn. When the work will start is anybody’s guess. John and Wyatt McWilliams also hope they can start rebuilding their respective barns soon.
The other impact of the derecho was the loss of livestock, or at least producing livestock. McFadden lost three cows as a direct impact of the storm. But since the storm, he has lost an additional 22 animals, or nearly one third of his herd, because they weren’t able to produce milk anymore, likely because of the stress caused by the storm, or having to move them to other unfamiliar barns in the storm’s aftermath, or a combination of both.
The Nooyens lost nearly half of their stock. In both cases, the insurance company has paid for new stock, but having to move the cows and the stress involved resulted in a drop in milk production.
Still, Cumberland farmers are a tough lot. And farmers in general have a built-in resiliency that most city folk can only dream of. They will continue to roll with the punches and pick themselves up off the canvas whenever they get knocked down like what happened last year. But that’s just par for the course when you’ve been dealing with Mother Nature all your life.