Monday, August 22, 2011

Goderich, Ont., regroups after deadly tornado

Powerful winds tear downtown Goderich apart Sunday afternoon, killing one person and laying waste parts of 'the prettiest town in Canada'Ontario tornado kills one3:00

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Goderich, Ont., is renowned for its beautiful sunsets, parks and beaches, but residents in the tiny town on the eastern shore of Lake Huron awoke Monday to downed trees, crushed cars and businesses reduced to rubble after a deadly tornado ripped through the downtown core a day earlier.
"Canada's Prettiest Town," as the town's official website calls it, is now in a state of emergency after Sunday's powerful storm.
Access to the downtown area is blocked off, and police have closed all entrances to the town for safety reasons and likely to discourage looting, says CBC's Dan Sherman, reporting down the shoreline in Bayfield, Ont., because of the restricted access.
Instead of awaking to a bustling summer day filled with tourists, Goderich, a community of about 8,000, was mourning the death of Norman Laberge, 61, of Lucknow, Ont., who was working in a salt mine when the storm hit, and struggling to make sense of the devastation.
'We saw tables and chairs outside of the café flying and then saw an SUV roll like a tumbleweed right in front.'—Cassandra Phillips-Grande, 16
At least 37 people were also injured in Sunday's tornado, which struck after thunderstorm warnngs were well in place and just 12 minutes before a tornado warning was issued at 3:48 p.m. ET, CBC meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe said Monday.
"Environment Canada has confirmed the tornado and [it] has been given an initial high-end rating of F2 [250 km/h]," she said.
Some witnesses described cars being picked up and tossed like toys.

Windshields 'blown out'

Sherman said resident Bob Earnest recalled hearing what he thought was a jet plane flying too low. He became disoriented, and then the side and back windshields of his vehicle were "blown out" by the tornado.
Herb Marshall, the owner of the Park House Bar and Restaurant, said the scene was right out of the movies.
"[The storm] came up the hill off the lake ... and just took everything with it," Marshall said. "I believe I saw a garbage bin up in the air going by."
Cassandra Phillips-Grande, 16, was in a coffee shop in the town square when the wind started to pick up, and that she tried to help some of the injured, including suffering from gashes and things falling on them.
"We saw tables and chairs outside of the café flying and then saw an SUV roll like a tumbleweed right in front," she said, adding that everyone in the shop moved to the back of the building.
"About two seconds later, we heard this really big crash and the roof collapsed in the spot where we had all been. When we went outside, we saw that some apartments had collapsed right in front of the café."
Sherman reported that the community began pulling together shortly after the mighty storm toppled the town.
A at the local Knights of Columbus Hall quickly became a relief centre Sunday night, feeding storm victims and repair crews.
"Goderich may have taken a hit, but the resiliency of this community is evident," Sherman reported. "Everyone is doing what needs to be done and pulling together."
It may be some time before Canada's Prettiest Town is restored to its pristine beauty, but townspeople are determined to pick up the pieces, and live up to its vows to visitors to its official website that, "Once you visit Goderich, your heart will never leave."

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