GODERICH, Ontario – A powerful tornado swept through a southwestern Ontario town on Sunday killing one person and causing severe devastation in the picturesque community on the shores of Lake Huron. It was the most powerful tornado to hit Ontario in years, officials said.
Downtown businesses, century-old buildings and several churches lost their roofs and upper floors as the twister ripped through Goderich. Images show downed power lines, trees and debris strewn across streets, while witnesses described cars being picked up and thrown like toys.
Police identified the victim as Norman Laberge, 61, of Lucknow, Ontario, who was working in a salt mine in the town when the storm hit.
At least 37 people have been treated for minor injuries and no one has been reported missing, said Ontario Provincial Police Inspector Bill Klym.
Randy Mawson of Environment Canada said the town was battered by winds of up to 300 kilometers per hour, considered an F2- or F3-level tornado. The province hasn’t seen a storm that powerful since 1996, he said.
“This is the worst damage I’ve ever seen,” said Mawson, who has been investigating storms for 36 years.
Goderich officials have placed the town under a state of emergency and cut off natural gas to the damaged areas. Mayor Delbert Shewfelt asked residents to stay out of the downtown core.