Cleanup has begun following a destructive EF-2 tornado in Barrie’s south end that sent eleven people to the hospital.
At around 3 p.m. Thursday, a tornado struck Barrie, cutting a five-kilometre path following Mapleview Drive from Huronia Road to hardest-hit Prince William Way. Up to fifty homes suffered severe damage in mere moments before the tornado dissipated. “The very detailed work begins of assessing each home that is heavily damaged to see which ones can be inhabited,” Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman told Barrie 360 while on scene Friday morning. He said, in some cases, police are escorting residents back to their homes to get medication or other personal possessions.
“But the most affected area remains closed to all but residents,” Lehman added.
The City has partnered with the Red Cross, which helped dozens of affected residents find lodging for the night. “So many people did find a place with family or friends. But for those who couldn’t, we got them into a hotel here in Barrie last night, and they’ll be coming back to the area today,” said Lehman.
Vanessa Barrassa, Media Relations Manager with the Insurance Bureau of Canada, says when it is safe to do so, start addressing the damage, “document the damage, take photos… those can be helpful. Call your insurance rep, you know, how do you start the claim, they’ll help you through that process. And if you can take some notes, as detailed as possible, if you have receipts and that sort of thing.” Barrassa is aware you might have lost some things, or you don’t know where to find everything, that’s where your insurance rep comes in. They are there to help, she says.
The Insurance Bureau of Canada has a Consumer Information Centre at 1-844-227-5422, to ask about policies and to understand the process.
While up to 50 homes were severely damaged, hundreds of houses and about a thousand residents were impacted by Thursday’s tornado. Such has been the case in past disasters, the outpouring of support has already begun to flow into the city’s south end. “I’m looking at a mountain of bottled water and food. We had restaurants dropping off cooked meals last night, both for victims and the first responders,” said Lehman. “already, of course, offers just pouring in for help.” So much so, a Barrie Families Unite drive for donations had to be put on hold by Friday morning. Organizer Nikki Glahn said the collection location at Saint Gabriel’s Elementary School was full, they ran out of space to put donations.
Debris has been cleared from Prince William Way, which will make the next stages of recovery easier on first responders like Barrie Fire. “The role today is really about starting the shift from emergency operations to recovery. We have some will be starting multiple meetings today to work on the transition plan for wrapping up,” Fire Chief Cory Mainprize told Barrie 360 Friday morning, adding their search for injured residents has wrapped up.