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Monday, August 22, 2011

Goderich Tornado Kills One,Injures 37 | Ontario | News | Goderich Wet Basement Leaks

Ont. Tornado Kills One, Injures 37 Ontario News Toronto Sun

GODERICH, ONT. - A powerful tornado that tore through here Sunday afternoon killed one person and injured 37 others, Ontario Provincial Police say.
The tornado, packing winds of up to 300 kilometres an hour, roared through Goderich around 4 p.m.
As firefighters and police officers searched dozens of damaged homes, businesses and plants, shocked residents dodged downed trees and power lines as they surveyed the damage in what bills itself as Canada's Prettiest Town.
"I've been with Environment Canada for 36 years ... this is the worst storm damage I've ever seen," Randy Mawson, a storm investigator with Environment Canada, said at an news conference Sunday night in Goderich.
OPP identified the person who died in the tornado as Norman Laberge, 61, of Lucknow, Ont. He was working at the Sifto salt mine. The coroner is investigating Laberge's death, OPP said.
The Sifto complex was heavily damaged as the twister tore metal siding off the evaporator and scattered debris.
Wind speeds reached between 250 and 300 kilometres an hour, Environment Canada said, strong enough to damage more than 100 buildings and push vehicles on their side.
The tornado is classified as an F2 to F3. Two additional assessment teams from Environment Canada will be in Goderich on Monday to investigate damage and assess the tornado.
Goderich Mayor Deb Shewfelt has declared a state of emergency.
"I need to ask everyone to stay away from the downtown core," he said at the news conference held at the emergency shelter set up at the Knights of Columbus hall.
People whose apartments or homes were damaged in the tornado stayed Sunday night at the shelter. Officials couldn't confirm the number of people unable to stay in their homes. Residents were dropping off food and other supplies.
Police released few details about the injured or where they were taken for treatment.
Insp. Bill Klym, the acting inspector for the Huron detachment, said the OPP deployed officers to secure the core.
"The area has completely been locked down to the public and been deemed a no-go zone," he said. "Public safety is our number 1 priority at this time as buildings are insecure."
The twister caused heavy damage to several buildings near the historic square at the heart of Goderich.
The roofs of several buildings ringing the square were torn off, exposing rooms and walls. The green space around the courthouse at the centre of the square was covered with tree limbs and trees that had been ripped out of the ground.
"It's like an atomic bomb hit it," Greg Rau said.
The powerful winds shattered windows in the courthouse so "you can see right through it," he said.
Damage was widespread throughout Goderich, a town of 8,000 on the shores of Lake Huron about 100 kilometres north of London, Ont.
The twister left buildings without roofs, trees and utility poles toppled on houses and debris scattered on the ground and in trees.
The power was out throughout the town and the natural gas system was shut down because of ruptures that left an odour of gas in the air.
Sarah Wong, an Environment Canada meteorologist, said the tornado was spawned by a fast-moving storm that moved in from Lake Huron.
Capt. Jeff Wormington of the Goderich fire department said the town's square suffered considerable damage.
"The main emphasis is on crowd control," he said. "The fire department is concerned because there's been a number of gas line breaks."
Buildings across town were damaged, including the evaporator at the Sifto salt plant, the front of a TD Canada Trust branch on Hwy. 21 and nearby Victoria Street United Church.
The Benmiller Inn and Falls Reserve Conservation Area east of Goderich also were damaged. Roofs were blown off two buildings at the inn and the inn was evacuated.
Joe Roosemalen, his partner Raquel Kennedy and their two children, aged nine and five, were inside their Goderich home when the power went out.
Roosemalen looked out the front window.
"I saw all the stuff swirling in the sky. The tornado was right across the road."
The family ran to the basement. The wind was so loud as they ran downstairs that their ears were popping, Kennedy said.
Remi Dube, who lives on Elgin St., was trying to close the door on his porch when the tornado hit.
"I made it in to the living room and everything went black."
The front porch was ripped off his house and a tree landed on his truck. His garage was severely damaged.
"Nobody got hurt, that's the main thing. My neighbours are all right."
Jill Gould of Uxbridge, Ont., was at a motel when the tornado hit.
"I've never seen anything like it. The wind went one way and it came back the other way."
Tyler Nicholson was napping on the couch at his home in Goderich when the tornado hit.
"I heard the wind and knew it was bad," he said. He raced to get his partner and child to the basement.
with files from Mashoka Maimona and Gerard Creces

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