The mayor of Lac-aux-Sables, Que. is praising the work of first responders after a tornado ravaged the town’s campgrounds and lakefront chalets on Tuesday evening.
Three people were taken to hospital with minor injuries, and about 50 dwellings in the municipality north of Trois-Rivières were damaged by the strong winds.
Mayor Yvon Bourassa said he is thankful there were no fatalities.
“All the teams, the firefighters, everyone around the city was working together,” he said. “The co-ordination was very good — it was excellent — and I am very proud of that intervention.”
Police say a campground and a number of cottages were hit by the winds. They say one camper was lifted off the ground and landed on another, but both were empty.
A power line was severed during the storm, leaving several residents still without electricity, but Bourassa said Hydro-Quebec is on site and should have everything restored in the coming days.
Winds reached 160 kilometres per hour, according to Environment Canada.
Officials from the weather agency interviewed witnesses and assessed the damage, concluding that the wind was moving in rotations rather than gusts, which is the hallmark of a tornado.
Watch a video of the tornado here:
Bourassa said the campsite and homes on Sainte-Marie Street were evacuated and about 60 people were forced out.
He said about 15 trailers and about 10 cottages were damaged, with the destruction limited to the campsite and lakefront properties.
A shelter was set up in the community and the Red Cross is at the scene helping those who need it. A security perimeter remains in place around the campsite so teams can clean up the area and restore power.
Winds were so strong that they broke trees and knocked down power lines, said regional director of public safety for the region, Sébastien Doire.
Police, paramedics and Hydro-Québec workers were all on the scene Tuesday, he said.
Environment Canada never issued a tornado warning, but mentioned the possibility that one could be generated as strong storms swept across Quebec Tuesday afternoon and evening.
The thunderstorms were generated by a cold front that swept through the area, he said — persistent humidity in the lower levels of the atmosphere created instability and the temperatures were very hot.