Tornado tore 5-kilometre-long path of destruction through Barrie, Ont: Environment Canada


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A tornado that tore through Barrie, Ont., left a path of destruction about five kilometres and up to 100 metres wide at some points, Environment Canada said Friday.

The federal weather agency gave the tornado, which hit the city about 110 kilometres north of Toronto on Thursday afternoon, a preliminary rating of EF-2. It brought winds of up to 210 km/h.

Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman told CBC News this morning that a total of 11 people were injured, after paramedics had initially put the figure at eight at a news conference yesterday. At least four of those people were taken to hospital for treatment.

The tornado also damaged about 25 homes, entirely levelling two or three, according to Barrie Fire Chief Cory Mainprize.

Premier Doug Ford is set to meet with residents and first responders later today.

WATCH | Tornado leaves trail of destruction in Barrie, Ont.:

A tornado has touched down in Barrie, Ont., leaving several people injured and a trail of destruction in its path. 4:20

Meanwhile, the city has turned its attention to the cleanup.

Crews are expected to start making some of the repairs today, including patching up roofs that weren’t too badly damaged.

Lehman said the community has already started coming together to support those who lost the most to the tornado, donating food and supplies.

He noted it’s a familiar scene to many long-time Barrie residents. A tornado killed eight people and injured more than 100 others in the city in 1985. Hundreds of homes in the Allendale neighbourhood were destroyed.

“The scenes today are reminiscent of it,” Lehman said. “I lived in that neighbourhood as a boy. I mean, it’s shocking, you know; you never expected to see it again.”

Yesterday’s tornado brought back memories for 70-year-old Judy Arksey, too.

“It was like déjà vu,” she said. “I got one look at the sky and I knew what was coming.”

A worker surveys the damage left after a tornado touched down in his neighbourhood, in Barrie, Ont., on July 15, 2021. (Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press)

She was in her daughter’s car in the driveway when the tornado ripped down the street. Her two grandchildren — ages six and 16 — were with them.

“I remember the horses being lifted up out of the racetrack during the other tornado, and I thought, here goes our car with my grandkids in it,” Arksey said.

As soon as she saw the sky, she said, she told them to look down so they wouldn’t see what was coming for them.

Luckily, she said, the car stayed on the ground despite taking a beating in the strong wind, and she and her family escaped injury.

She said the community has come together in the wake of yesterday’s destruction, just like it did 36 years ago.

Arksey spent two weeks volunteering after the 1985 tornado, helping out however she could at the church.

“I’m too old to do that this time,” she said.

The tornado damaged roughly 25 homes and levelled two or three of them, fire officials said. (Grant Linton/CBC)

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