July 12, 2019 by THE CANADIAN PRESS
ST-ROCH-DE-L’ACHIGAN, Que. – A tornado tore through a campground north of Montreal Thursday evening, snapping trees, toppling trailers and sending at least one injured man to hospital.
“When I drove through, I saw a trailer that was all twisted, up in the air,” said Andre Parent, a Montrealer who lives at the Camping Horizon campground in summer.
“There was one that flipped over just two over from my home, there are trees down all over the place.”
Environment Canada confirmed Friday the twister struck St-Roch-de-l’Achigan, Que., in the Lanaudiere region about 50 kilometres north of Montreal, at about 6:30 p.m. on Thursday.
The tornado checked in as an EF1, with winds between 135 and 175 kilometres per hour.
Severe thunderstoms rolling through the province also cut power to thousands of households.
A meteorologist was dispatched to the scene early Friday. The agency noted several recreational vehicles were damaged at the campsite as well as farms in the area.
Environment Canada’s Alexandre Parent said the damage has all the hallmarks of a tornado.
“We saw some damage over a path of at least three kilometres, and that’s really the signature of a tornado,” Parent said in an interview.
There are usually six to seven tornadoes reported yearly in the province and Thursday’s is believed to be the first this year.
Camping Horizon sustained the heaviest damage. One resident was injured and taken to hospital after strong winds rolled his trailer.
Residents were taking stock of the destruction Friday as they tried to clean up the debris.
Camping Horizon owner Alex Caron said he was at a townhall meeting when his mother called to tell him a camper had toppled.
He returned to find trailers damaged, old trees snapped, vehicles damaged and power lines down, cutting electricity to the grounds which rely on power for pumps for water.
“A lot of fear when it happened – some people were in their trailers, one gentleman went to the hospital, he was in his trailer when it flipped over,” Caron said.
“People were scared, now they’re looking at the damages and people are pretty distraught because it’s part of their life, these trailers, it becomes their residence in the summer and some people have lost them completely.”
The campground includes 180 seasonal sites and 35 weekend sites. Because of the damage, Caron said this weekend’s reservations were cancelled.
Parent, who was on the road when the tornado hit, said his own home sustained minor damage compared to others. But without electricity, there was no pumps for running water.
“It’s the first time I’ve seen something like this in all my time here,” he said.
– By Sidhartha Banerjee in Montreal with files from Graham Hughes in St-Roch-de-L’Achigan, Que.