ABOVE: Mark Carcasole checks in from Angus, Ontario with the latest information on recovery efforts – including when some residents will be allowed back in their homes
TORONTO – Residents of Angus, about 100 kilometres north of Toronto, began cleaning up Wednesday after the community was hit by a tornado.
Police said at least 100 homes are uninhabitable but residents said they were relieved no one appeared to have been badly hurt when the storm ripped through Angus on Tuesday evening.
Ontario Provincial Police said some people suffered minor injuries as roofs and walls were sheared off homes.
Early Wednesday morning Essa Township Mayor Terry Dowdall surveyed the neighbourhood and said it was closer to 100 homes damaged in the storm.
Insurance officials are surveying the affected homes to determine which can still be lived in and which will have to be replaced.
Most people Dowdall spoke to were prepared and hiding in their basement when the tornado hit.
Dowdall tried to sum up the storm in two words: unbelievable and miracle.
“Unbelievable is the first word when you see the amount of destruction and the force that a tornado can do and the second word is miracle, at 5 p.m. at that time of day, you’d think there’d be kids in these backyards playing. This could be a totally, totally different story.”
“Maybe there is a miracle to this.”
Kevin Thompson, 42, came home to see the tornado had wreaked havoc on his neighbourhood, ripping shingles off his roof and throwing a chair through his kitchen wall.
“It was sort of surreal because when you pulled into this subdivision, the upper part was great, and we saw people standing there pointing down towards our home,” he said Wednesday. “You start looking up the street and down the street and you see houses athat are totally gone and nothing there.”
City officials are inspecting each house to make sure no people or animals were left behind.
Dowdall said it’s still too early to determine how much the cleanup will cost but said he hopes the province will provide financial assistance.
The Township of Essa, in which Angus is located, declared a state of emergency on Tuesday night, which allowed for extra resources to be brought in to deal with the storm’s aftermath.
A shelter was opened at a local recreation centre for nearly 300 people who were affected by the severe storm.
“I don’t believe anyone stayed overnight,” Dowdall said. “A lot of the residents, it’s a great community, opened their doors with outpouring support, so people had places to stay.”
Residents gathered on driveways and sidewalks in the worst-damaged neighbourhood as emergency vehicles blocked off streets.
Environment Canada’s Rob Kuhn confirmed late Tuesday it was an EF2 tornado that struck Angus.
The national weather agency had issued tornado warnings for several communities in the area as a line of severe thunderstorms with embedded tornadoes moved into the Lake Simcoe region.
Much of southern and central Ontario was under weather warnings on Tuesday.
Earlier in the day, four people were hit by lightning at a golf course north of Toronto as a severe thunderstorm moved through.
–with files from The Canadian Press
© Shaw Media, 2014