Tornado rips through Lachute, damaging more than 300 buildings

More than 300 buildings, including homes and the local arena, were damaged in a tornado that swept through Lachute, Que., the city's mayor said Wednesday.

Environment Canada investigators confirmed tornado touched down in west Quebec town

The tornado tore through town, taking off the roof of one home. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

More than 300 buildings, including homes and the local arena, were damaged in a tornado that swept through Lachute, Que., the city's mayor said Wednesday.

It took between five to 10 minutes for the storm to blow by, leaving behind a path of destruction in its wake.

"Roofs, cabanas, pools and the exterior siding of homes were heavily damaged," said Carl Péloquin.

At least one home's roof was torn off, but there are no reports of injuries.

Alain Marineau lives at that home, which is at the corner of Gougeon and Principale streets. When he started to feel the house vibrating, he decided to go outside and see what was going on.

"I told my wife 'Move back, I don't know if the house will lift,'" he recalled.
Residents survey the damage from a category one tornado in Lachute, Que., on Wednesday. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

He was greeted by destruction and debris on the streets of his neighbourhood. Then, he looked up and saw the roof of his house was gone.

Marineau stayed at a friend's last night and returned to his house Wednesday morning. He fought back tears when asked how it felt to see the damage to his home.

"It's… It's hard, for sure," he said.

He bought the home in May and was in the process of renovating it. The basement was finished and he had been working on the main floor.

Alain Marineau got emotional when he looked at his home in Lachute, Que., Wednesday morning. The roof was torn off during a powerful storm. (Radio-Canada)

'We are there for you'

The city opened a temporary shelter for the roughly 40 people who couldn't stay in their homes, but everyone who was forced out spent the night with friends or family, Péloquin added. 

As of Wednesday afternoon, Péloquin said that the situation is "under control" but that up to 20 people can still not return home. Two information centres have also been set up in the town for residents.

"We are there for you and we will support you," said Péloquin, adding that some will have major home repairs to do.

Lachute opened a temporary shelter for the residents forced out of their homes. (Jaela Bernstien/CBC)

Ten Hydro-Québec crews were out all night and restored power to a number of clients, and the majority of residents should have power back by the end of Wednesday.

Péloquin said representatives from Quebec's Public Security Ministry as well as from the Red Cross are in the town to provide assistance, adding that the situation had already improved by this morning.

"The important thing is that no one was hurt," he said.

"The rest is material."

The Sûreté du Québec will also remain in the town as residents and city officials continue with the cleanup.

A category F1 tornado, with winds up to 180 kilometres per hour, touched down in Lachute on Tuesday night. (Estelle Côté-Sroka/Radio-Canada)

Environment Canada confirmed the tornado earlier Wednesday.

René Héroux, a meteorologist with the weather agency, said it was an EF-1 tornado, with winds up to 180 kilometres per hour, that touched down around 6:10 p.m. Tuesday.

Tornadoes are measured on a scale of F0 to F5, with F5 being the most intense.

In this the case, the tornado developed as part of a storm that hammered parts of southeastern Ontario and southwestern Quebec

The inside of a home in Lachute was damaged after a tornado ripped through the town. (Estelle Côté-Sroka/Radio-Canada)

With files from Jaela Bernstien, Radio-Canada's Jacaudrey Charbonneau and Gravel le matin