Hundreds displaced as tornado hits Gatineau, Que.
Storm damaged many homes and apartment buildings
Hundreds of people were displaced from their homes in Gatineau, Que., after a tornado tore through the capital region Friday.
Gatineau's Mont Bleu neighbourhood appeared to take the full force of the storm, which Environment Canada confirmed was a tornado. Roofs were blown off several homes along Boulevard Cité-des-Jeunes.
As of late in the evening Friday, 600 people were seeking shelter. Early reports said five people sustained injuries and were taken to hospital.
James Widder was terrified when the storm hit the area. He had to hold onto his daughter to keep her safe.
"When it ripped our roof off, my daughter she went flying in the air," he said, choking back tears. "I almost let go because she was slipping. I said if she is going to die I am going to die with her and then it finally went past."
Gatineau Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin spoke with CBC's Alan Neal during a radio special on the storm early in the evening. The city has set up the Gabrielle-Roy campus of Cégep de l'Outaouais at 333 Boulevard de la Cité-des-Jeunes as an emergency shelter.
At the time, Pedneaud-Jobin anticipated 300 people would seek shelter, but he also expected the number could rise.
"Many houses will be damaged," he said. "It might be much higher than that."
Pedneaud-Jobin said the community was prepared and had buses in place to move the people who lost their homes and brought in staff early, as soon as there were indications the storm could hit. He said after recent floods, the city has been forced to improve its emergency management.
"Unfortunately, we are getting good at tackling emergency situations," he said.
More than 50,000 Hydro-Québec customers were without power as of 12:30 a.m. on Saturday
Greg Fergus, Hull-Alymer MP said he was stunned at the damage inflicted across the community. He said one constituent showed him photos of the apartment she barely managed to stay in when the storm hit.
"The only thing she held onto and the only thing that withstood was a door handle she was holding onto. Her walls disappeared. Her roof had flown off."
Gatineau was not the only west Quebec community hit by the storm. Joanne Labadie, the mayor of Pontiac, said her community was also hit.
"We have to date about 15 homes, properties, with roofs partially or totally torn off," she said. "There were a number of homes, garages and I also saw a barn missing its roof entirely."
Fire officials believe lightning sparked a fire at l'École secondaire Mont-Bleu, in Gatineau that forced the evacuation of the school.