Cleanup efforts are continuing after last week’s tornado that swept through Barrie, Ont.’s south end, causing extensive structural damage.
On Monday, officials said city staff finished clearing all public lands — like roads, sidewalks and parks — in the affected tornado area.
Barrie Police released the site on Monday afternoon, though there will be a police presence at the scene over the next several days. Fencing has also been installed around buildings and sites with significant damage.
“Now it’s really private property and trying to help the homeowners who have sustained heavy damage, ” Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman told Global News Monday.
“We’ve still got the assistance trailers and command centre on site. They’ll be there a little while longer as long as people need them, I think, for the next few days. And it’ll be a case of trying to help people as best we can put their lives back together if they lost their home.”
Lehman said most of the main parts of the cleanup have already occurred, though some properties are in rough shape and will need more work.
“That is something that the homeowners with their contractors and insurance companies will need to do,” the mayor said. “The biggest challenge for many of the folks who’ve been affected by the tornado … will be finding alternate accommodation because we have one of the tightest rental markets in the whole country.”
In the coming weeks, Lehman said the city will need to discuss helping families who are looking for a three- to four-bedroom house in a difficult-to-find market.
“I think the rebuilding is already occurring,” he added. “One of the businesses in the plaza that was heavily damaged on Thursday already opened again this morning.”
On Monday, Barrie–Innisfil MP John Brassard told Global News the level of coordination has been “remarkable” at the local level.
“Right now, this site is cleaned up to the extent of 95 per cent,” Brassard said. “It speaks to the leadership in the city and the resources and the people that work for it who’ve done a remarkable job getting the city back on its feet.”
Brassard said the community has also come together. On Monday, there was a community cleanup that initially expected to see a turnout of 50 to 60 people. Hundreds showed up.
“It makes me very, very proud to be a Member of Parliament who’s representing this area,” he added. “We should all be proud of the way this community has come together because that’s the way it should be after a devastating effect like the tornado.”
So far, the Canadian Red Cross has helped 44 people from more than a dozen families, according to Russ Courtney, a spokesperson with the organization.
Lehman said there are about 30 to 40 households that will require months of accommodation.
On Friday, he said more than 100 people were displaced from their homes, though on Monday, he said that number is going down because eight homes that were deemed unsafe to occupy have already been repaired.
“Some of these contractors, they just worked two straight days over the weekend, and now the homes are occupiable again” Lehman said.
“We’ve rescinded a few orders … where we let people go back in because the home is safe.”
— With files from Global News’ Nick Westoll
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