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‘I’ve never seen any devastation like this,’ mayor says

AFTERMATH: Residents and inspectors survey the damage on Houston Rd., one of the areas hardest hit by yesterday's wicked weather. A number of homes on the street wil likely have ot be demolished. (Karolyn Coorsh/Vaughan Today)

It’s a miracle Vaughan escaped without the loss of a single life or any serious injuries, Mayor Linda Jackson says.

Four areas of the city were hit hard by wicked weather, which spawned tornadoes, that tore through yesterday evening: Martin Grove Rd. and Andrew Park, Moonstone Pl. and Houston Rd. and Islington Ave. and Gamble St. in Woodbridge, and in the area of Melville Ave. and Haymer Dr. in Maple.

“I’ve lived in Vaughan for over 40 years myself,” Jackson said this morning. “I’ve never seen any devastation like this. When I go through the community, it reminds me . . . of what had happened in 1985 in Barrie.

“The fact that there was not one casualty and not one serious injury is absolutely remarkable. It was a real miracle.”

Roughly 600 homes suffered severe damage and another 200 suffered critical damage and may need to be torn down, the mayor said.

The city has a team of 14 building inspectors assessing the damage in the four hard-hit areas of the city and, Jackson said, the hope is they will have all affected homes looked at by the end of the day.

The city activated its emergency operations centre and declared a state of emergency last night. Two temporary shelters were opened to house people forced from their storm-damaged homes, though they went unused.

“Not one resident slept overnight,” Jackson said. “It showed how the community did come together, how they banded together.”

Offers of help have been coming in from neighbouring municipalities and the provincial and federal governments, she said.

“I have spoken to Mayor Jackson and have offered Toronto’s assistance to Vaughan should it be required,” Toronto Mayor David Miller said in a statement.

A mobile community station has been set up by York police on the northwest corner of Martin Grove Rd. and Hwy. 7. Staff from the city, the region, the Salvation Army and the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals are on site.

To help with cleanup efforts, York Region is extending hours at the McCleary Court Community Environmental Centre and Asian Longhorned Beetle Yard Waste Drop-off facility in Vaughan. McCleary Court will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. and the yard waste drop-off facility will be open 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. everyday until Sept. 4.

Vaughan Today
Online: August 21, 2009 [link]