'Extensive' damage in Barrie's south end after tornado moved through region, 9 injured

WATCH ABOVE: Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman said as of Thursday evening no deaths had been reported after a tornado moved through the region.

At least nine people in Barrie‘s south end have been injured after Environment Canada confirms a tornado moved through the region on Thursday.

Photos and videos posted on social media began at around 3 p.m. and the images appeared to show the destruction of multiple homes in the community.

“There is extensive damage … to homes and property, and this is heartbreaking for all of the residents,” Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman told reporters during a news conference Thursday evening.

“Help our first responders. The way you can help our first responders is to stay clear of the area and for those in the area, for those with family in the area, please be patient. I know this is a very difficult day.”

Read more:
Photos, videos posted online show extensive Barrie tornado aftermath

Officials said the heaviest damage appeared to be concentrated to around five or six streets near Prince William Way and Mapleview Drive East. The damage at properties ranged from shingles blown off rooftops to fuller structural damage and vehicles being blown over.

Barrie Fire and Emergency Service Chief Cory Mainprize said searches of all the properties were expected to be completed by the end of Thursday. He said approximately 20 homes were inhabitable overnight, but he said a portion of those properties only need relatively minor repairs. It was estimated two or three homes will need to be rebuilt.

County of Simcoe Paramedic Services Chief Andrew Robert said four of the eight patients paramedics treated had more serious injuries compared to the others. There were no reports of any fatalities.

An update posted on Twitter by Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre said as of 6 p.m., nine patients in total were ultimately treated by hospital staff for minor injuries.

For those who need assistance, officials encouraged people to go to St. Gabriel the Archangel Catholic School on Prince William Way where a command centre was established or to call the police Barrie Police Service’s tornado assistance line at 705-728-8442.

Alectra Utilities reported less than 400 customers were without power as of 12:30 a.m. on Friday, down from nearly 3,900 after the storm happened. Power was estimated to be restored by 7 a.m. on Friday.

GO Transit was forced to suspended rail service to the two GO stations in Barrie due to damaged rail crossings.

In Innisfil, South Simcoe Police Chief Andrew Fletcher said in an update on Twitter that the service received reports of property damage to several homes and trees in the Sandy Cove Acres neighbourhood. He said officers would be in the area overnight if anyone needs help.

For those who had damage to their properties, the Insurance Bureau of Canada encouraged people to contact their insurance representatives as soon as possible to start the claims process. Residents were encouraged to document the damage (photos were encouraged) and to keep notes on actions taken as well as all receipts related to clean-up.

Environment Canada first issued an alert just before 2:50 p.m. and it said meteorologists were tracking a severe storm near Innisfil. The storm was reported to be moving east at around 65 km/h.

Residents in the area along with those in Beaverton, Georgina, Sutton, Sibbald Point Provincial Park, Georgina Island, Sunset Beach, Pefferlaw, as well as areas near Dufferin County, were urged to take cover immediately.

At around 3:30 p.m., warnings for communities in the northern parts of York and Durham Region were dropped.

However, warnings were subsequently issued for Peterborough and Kawartha Lakes regions as the storm system moved east.

Read more:
Severe storm leaves swath of damage across City of Kawartha Lakes, 2 trapped in home

The agency confirmed later in the day that a tornado did move through Barrie. An Environment Canada spokesperson told Global News crews were being deployed to the region to assess damages.

Premier Doug Ford posted a message on Twitter Thursday afternoon thanking first responders for their work on the ground.

Meanwhile, Lehman thanked Ford, the prime minister’s office, as well as nearby municipalities for calls of support and offers of assistance immediately after the tornado.

He also said he was reminded of recent reflections he had on the major 1985 tornado in Barrie that came with no warning and left eight people dead, and drew a comparison to how the community responded.

“The character of the community is defined by its response to its most difficult days, and this is one of them,” Lehman said.

“Already we’ve seen our first responders do incredible work. We see people helping their neighbours. We’ve seen businesses in the area reach out with food and water for the people working in these difficult situations and the residents affected.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

You May Also Like

Top Stories