Excerpted article written by Kelly Steele, Windsor Star
Arnold Brown, 60, is homeless after Wednesday’s tornado destroyed the home he rents on Victory street. The roof was ripped off leaving the inside exposed to the rain and most of his belongings inside destroyed. Red Cross has put him up in a hotel for a few nights but he’s faced with looking for a place to live.
“It’s pretty devastating,” he said. “There’s no way you can look at it any other way. We lost everything. I just started crying afterward.”
But Brown said in the midst of all the chaos, the neighbours all pulled together to help.
“The neighbours all came over to see if we were okay,” he said. “It really looked bad around here. This is going to stay with me for awhile, I’ve been having nightmares about it.”
Erik Lobzun, who lives next door, said the roof of his home sustained substantial damage, windows were broken and he suspects there may be other damage to the house.
“We are picking up and things are getting cleaned up,” he said. “Insurance is being really good, which helps. The community really pulled together which really helped.”
After the storm subsided, neighbours went from house to house in the Victory Street area helping to tarp exposed roofs. Some walked around with chainsaws helping to cut up the fallen trees. Zehrs came out with coolers of water and food for everyone.
“You start to lose faith in humanity and something like this brings it back,” he said. “I was amazed at the level of effort from everyone.”
In Windsor, close to 400 workers from Empire Roofing, Belfor Property Restoration and Rosati construction have pulled together since Saturday to fix the roof at Kautex Corporation on Deziel Drive by Friday. The tornado ripped the roof off the auto parts plant forcing its to shut down leaving its 200 employees out of work.
“It’s an extremely expensive undertaking but we’ve all joined forces to make this happen,” said Nada Tayar, service manager with Empire Roofing. “Every piece of our equipment is there and we’ve pulled manpower from every job site in Windsor, Toronto and London.”
Workers are staying in hotels and working countless hours on the roof. Despite the long hours, Tayar said morale is great as everyone is “working from their heart to support their community.”
Sara Monger, spokesperson for Kautex, said the company is continuing to proceed with clean up and repairs and are looking to get things “back on track as soon as possible.” The damage is extensive as the roof was peeled off as well as two walls were blown off.
“We have a pretty strict timeline of events that we are adhering to and we are in constant contact with our customers,” she said. “At this point we don’t even have power at the plant and are running off generators.”
On Tuesday, the plant did manage to get one of its production lines running by using the generators. “We are trying as hard as we can to get things up and back on line. We need that and so do our customers.”
Last Wednesday, Environment Canada’s Storm team confirmed two separate tornadoes touched down. The first tornado, a confirmed F1, touched down in LaSalle around 7:06 p.m. bringing winds from 135- 175 km/hr. The storm gained power and by 7:15 p.m. it had become an F2 tornado when it hit the industrial areas around E.C. Row and Central Avenue. It carried winds between 200 – 220 km/hr.
On the weekend, members of the Windsor Essex County Canoe Club grabbed their kayaks, canoes and boats and headed out to Peche Island to clean up the debris dropped by the tornado. Club president Stacey Adam said most of the debris was roofing material likely from the Kautex plant. The club collected close to 60 bags and are planning to go back Thursday to finish the cleanup.
Transit Windsor continues to detour its Central 3 route which normally travels through Deziel Drive, Kautex Drive and Mannhein Way. The detour will now see the route only travel to Rhodes Drive avoiding the affected areas. Gary Brown, manager of operations with Transit Windsor, said they are monitoring the area but at this point those roads are still closed.
Damage costs from the storms are still being tallied. Steve Kee, director of media and digital communications with Insurance Bureau of Canada said they are still dealing with insurance companies submitting claims. The IBC is the national industry association representing Canada’s private home, auto and business insurers.