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Most powerful storm in Ontario in 15 years reduces parts of Goderich to rubble

August 22, 2011ONTARIO - The town of Goderich has declared a state of emergency after a tornado devastated the community Sunday afternoon, killing one person and injuring dozens. Ontario Provincial Police said a 61-year-old man, identified as Norman Laberge, was killed while he was working at the town’s salt mine. Laberge was a resident of nearby Lucknow. Police said at least 37 people were injured. Officers from several communities, including Toronto, converged on Goderich on Monday to sift through the wreckage during a widespread search and rescue operation. Premier Dalton McGuinty is scheduled to tour the disaster area. With winds of up to 300 kilometers per hour, the tornado touched down and destroyed much of Goderich’s core – flipping vehicles, uprooting decades-old trees, destroying several century-old buildings and leaving a trail of debris – after a violent storm system rolled across Lake Huron shortly before 4 p.m. “This is the worst damage I’ve ever seen,” said Environment Canada meteorologist Randy Mawson, who has been investigating storms for 36 years. It was the most powerful storm in Ontario in 15 years, Mawson said. A tornado warning was issued by Environment Canada at 3:48 p.m., about 12 minutes before the tornado struck, said David Phillips, Environment Canada’s senior climatologist. Tornado warnings are usually issued about 10 to 15 minutes in advance, he said. Devastation is like a movie scene: witness. Herb Marshall, the owner of the Park House Bar and Restaurant, said the scene was right out of a Hollywood blockbuster. “(The storm) came up the hill off the lake … and just took everything with it,” Marshall said. “I believe I saw a garbage bin up in the air going by.” Amateur video showed the devastation in the town’s square, where vehicles were tossed like toy cars, roofs of buildings were ripped off and debris rained down. –CP24

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