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Updated: Wed, 18 Jun 2014 11:36:33 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Angus, Ont., tornado leaves thousands with no power as cleanup begins



Debris is strewn across a subdivision in Angus, Ont., a day after a tornado touched down. No one was hurt, but the damage was extensive. Natalie Kalata/CBC

Debris is strewn across a subdivision in Angus, Ont., a day after a tornado touched down. No one was hurt, but the damage was extensive. Natalie Kalata/CBC

About 6,000 Hydro One customers remain without electricity across southern Ontario, the morning after a violent thunderstorm — and one confirmed tornado — touched down in the region, causing millions of dollars in damage.

A series of storms Tuesday afternoon brought lashing rains and powerful winds, toppling branches, bringing down hydro lines and causing widespread outages. Despite the devastation, no serious injuries were reported.

Early Wednesday, Hydro One officials told CBC News that about 6,000 customers remain without power, with the outages spread over isolated pockets across southern Ontario. Hydro One distributes power for most residents of rural Ontario.

At the height of the storm about 46,000 Hydro One customers were without power.

Toronto Hydro, which supplies the Greater Toronto Area, reported that 1,000 customers were in the dark as of  Wednesday morning, down from 12,000 with no power at the height of the storm.

"We're seeing that a lot of limbs on trees have fallen, bringing power lines on the road, poles have been snapped," said Hydro One spokeswoman Marylena Stey. "In a lot of cases, the areas aren't safe yet for our crews to access, so we are waiting for roads to be cleaned up and reopened so we can get in and restore power."

Stey said she expects power will be restored for all Hydro One customers by the end of Wednesday.

Of the 6,000 Hydro One customers without power in the morning, about 4,000 are concentrated in an area near Barrie, located about 100 kilometres north of Toronto.

OPP spokesman Const. Kelly Daniels said between 80 and 100 homes were damaged in the severe weather, and many houses are temporarily condemned.

The priority, said Daniels, is aiding residents in the area affected. Local pharmacies are helping people get prescriptions refilled.

The OPP said residents cannot yet walk through properties, and that only building inspectors are allowed in right now.

Angus gets worst of it

Worst hit in Tuesday's storms was the town of Angus, about 30 kilometres west of Barrie. A tornado touched down just after 5 p.m. ET Tuesday, blowing out windows, tearing up fences and shearing the roofs off houses. 

About 100 homes were damaged and 300 people were forced from the area.

CBC's Natalie Kalata was in Angus on Wednesday morning and said the area is strewn with debris and there's damage everywhere.

"There are sides of homes that are completely missing," Kalata reported Wednesday on CBC Radio. "You can see inside bedrooms and kitchens."

A state of emergency remains in effect in Essa township, an area that includes Angus. 

People in Angus have not been allowed to return to their homes. Emergency officials will assess the damage on a house-by-house basis on Wednesday before deciding when they can return.

Damage from the storm is estimated in the millions.

Essa Township Mayor Terry Dowdall said the community has pulled together to help with the cleanup. As one example, he said a local tree company is working for free to clear fallen limbs from roads.

"We're usually a fairly quiet town – to see the overwhelming support is quite unbelievable," said Dowdall.

"We had a shelter last night set up in the community. Nobody had to stay overnight, they all had places to go."

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