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Updated: Wed, 18 Jun 2014 16:05:44 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Angus, Ont., tornado: 'Miracle' no one was hurt, mayor says



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

The mayor of Essa Township says it's a miracle no one was seriously injured when a tornado ripped through the community of Angus, Ont., on Tuesday afternoon, overturning vehicles, downing power lines and ripping roofs off houses.

Mayor Terry Dowdall says about 100 homes were damaged, though only three minor injuries were reported. Crews were busy cleaning up from the damage on Wednesday.

Dowdall, who joined other emergency officials this morning to give a brief update on the situation, said he has never seen such destruction in the community, which is located about 100 kilometres north of Toronto. The tornado struck at about 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

"It was really a miracle that nobody was hurt," said Dowdall.

"I think it was the right time of day," said Essa Fire Chief Cynthia Tustin, calling it an "amazing piece of timing."

"People weren't asleep ... people were up and people were able to be aware of what's going on," she said.

Provincial police Const. Kelly Daniels says the priority now is to ensure homes are safe enough for people to go back inside and retrieve needed personal items like medication.

She says residents who have been displaced from their homes will be escorted by police and fire officials when they go inside and it will be done home by home.

"Now that we know everyone is safe, our job is to protect their property," said Daniels.

About 6,000 Hydro One customers remain without electricity across southern Ontario as a result of the storm, which delivered severe thunderstorms to much of southern Ontario.

- Interactive | Inside a supercell tornado

The series of storms brought lashing rains and powerful winds, toppling branches, bringing down hydro lines and causing widespread outages.

Early Wednesday, Hydro One officials told CBC News the power outages were 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.

Angus gets worst of it

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. 

Damage from the storm is estimated in the millions.

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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