'The barn is gone': Residents coming to grips after tornado rips through southern Ont.

Cheryl Schatz stands beside the former arena where she exercised 10 horses she boarded before the...

Cheryl Schatz stands beside the former arena where she exercised 10 horses she boarded before the tornado hit Tuesday afternoon in New Tecumseth, Ont. The two-tonnes concrete blocks were part of the foundation of the canvas barn that took the brunt of the damage on the farm. (CHERYL BROWNE/QMI Agency)

Cheryl Browne, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:33 AM ET

NEW TECUMSETH, Ont. — Scott McMillan pulled into his driveway as a white wall of rain rushed towards his pickup.

The New Tecumseth, Ont. farmer said the driving rain calmed briefly as he parked his truck, then watched a large weeping willow bend in half as the wind picked back up again.

“I got up to the house and looked over and saw the roof of the barn next door go straight up into the air,” McMillan told Arnold Ashton, a severe weather meteorologist with Environment Canada, Wednesday.

“I didn’t see a funnel cloud, just a massive bunch of rain. This wasn’t a green sky,” he added. “It’s just Mother Nature. Weird, eh?”

Ashton said Environment Canada has classified what McMillan and his neighbours witnessed Tuesday as a class EF1 tornado, with winds up to 177 kilometres an hour that pummeled an area of New Tecumseth about a half-hour southwest of Barrie, Ont.

Editor’s Note: The following video contains language which may offend some viewers.

The two horse farms beside McMillan’s farm both lost their barns into his fields that are now decorated with torn and twisted aluminum appearing crumpled.

Next door, Ivan Duggan surveyed his family’s farm, his face pale and solemn.

After driving home through the storm, he watched a shed disintegrate before his eyes as a large stand of cedar trees bent at a 45-degree angle.

He ran to get his two dogs out of the pen before rushing to the basement. He said he emerged two minutes later to see the swath of destruction behind his family farm.

“I knew when I looked at the barn it was bad because I could see through it and there’s usually a wall there,” Duggan said.

Steve Singh drove up to check on his neighbours. He lives on the next line over and he said he lost three cars — a Lexus, a Hummer and a Jeep — when the tornado ripped through his garage.

“I came up the road with not a leaf out of place and turned into my place and the garage was gone,” Singh said.

His family had been hiding in the cold cellar and he doesn’t believe there was any further structural damage to the house.

At the next farm Cheryl Schatz boards 10 horses, two of which suffered minor leg injuries as they ran from flying debris in the paddock.

She’d been sitting on her deck when the wind and rain kicked in and hurried into her mother’s house to console her because she was nervous about the weather.

“I said, ‘It’s OK, we’re fine’ and she said, ‘No we’re not, the barn is gone,’” Schatz said.

Nottawasaga OPP Const. Kelly Daniels said she had heard of a horse on the next line that had broken a leg and needed to be euthanized.

“It is sad about the horse, but again, after last week’s storm in Angus, it’s another miracle that again no one was injured,” Daniels said.

One week earlier, almost to the hour, an EF2 tornado left approximately 300 people homeless in Angus Ont. Those 220-km/h winds blew roofs off houses and tore walls from bedrooms, leaving at least a dozen homes on the demolition list because they can’t be repaired.

cheryl.browne@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @cherylbrowne1


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