Mayor Dave Barton says “there’s a lot of work to do” three days after a violent thunderstorm hit Uxbridge, reducing portions of the small Ontario town to rubble.
“On the ground, the situation is severe,” Barton told CP24.
From a bird’s-eye view, cameras flying over the area Tuesday morning revealed the extent of the damage.
Several structures are without roofs. Trees that were once fully grown have been bent over and shattered like toothpicks.
The town declared a state of emergency in the aftermath of the storm that claimed the lives of at least 10 people across Ontario and Quebec.
Barton said the town was “very fortunate” to not report any deaths as a result of the storm given the “devastation” in the area.
He said no one is unaccounted for at this time and any injuries that were reported are “very minor.”
“Stuff can be replaced. Trees will regrow. But the [emotional] damage to people, it’s a very different situation,” Barton said.
The town has submitted an application to the province for disaster relief funding. Premier Doug Ford toured the wreckage on Monday and called the weather event a “once-in-a-lifetime storm.”
“We will be there to support any community right across the province,” Ford said. “We are going to be there through municipal affairs.”
Elexicon Energy, which services Uxbridge, said as many as 5,000 homes are without power as of Tuesday morning as crews work to repair downed power lines and restore electricity.
At least 35 properties were severely damaged during the storm and engineers are on the ground to assess which buildings need to be torn down.
Notices were posted to those buildings which can’t be immediately reoccupied on Monday, according to Uxbridge Fire Chief Phil Alexander.
One of those buildings is the Second Wedge Brewery, which had just opened on the long weekend and now doesn’t have a roof.
“This was our opening weekend. We brewed beer to get that going. Now, we’re not going anywhere,” Robert Garrard, co-founder of Second Wedge Brewery, told CTV News Toronto.
“If it’s a tear down, our adjusters estimated it could be a year. Not sure what that means for us because I don’t think we can sustain a year.”
Ashley Woodhams is in a similar situation. The Uxbridge resident and her family were out of town during the storm, but returned to find what remained of their home in shambles.
“I’m going to guess they’re going to tear it down. The walls are cracked. We have no windows left. The floors are shaky. We’re just trying to get everything that’s of value to us and sentimental out,” Woodhams said.
In the meantime, Barton said that amid the devastation, residents — many of whom are equipped with chainsaws to remove fallen trees — are rallying together to repair the town.
“Every minute, we’re getting a little bit closer,” Barton said.
“We have three schools open today. Three are closed. We want our kids, we want all of our residents to be up and running once again.”
The cleanup effort is being supported by the Red Cross and all levels of government, Barton said.
The mayor is asking those who wish to travel from out of town to assist with the recovery to stay at home.
“We don’t need tourists right now. We’re trying to deal with this internally and we want as little traffic on our streets as we can.”
He said he expects the cleanup will last several weeks.