Vaughan picks up the pieces after the tornado
The mayor of Vaughan, Ont. lifted an emergency declaration for the city Saturday night.
Mayor Linda Jackson said at a news conference Saturday afternoon that she would lift the emergency declaration at 6 p.m.
"I am pleased to say that the emergency situation is now under control and power has been completely restored in our city," she said.
The power was fully restored in the Maple and Woodbridge neighbourhoods early Saturday afternoon she said.
In the meantime, homeowners in tornado-stricken parts of Ontario will have to wait and see if they qualify for federal financial assistance to help them recover from the mass destruction the storm inflicted on them.
After touring homes in Vaughan that suffered severe structural damage during Thursday's storm, Canada's Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan said doling out financial aid is not a political decision but rather the result of a "complex mathematical formula."
Ottawa has an emergency response program that assesses whether damaged neighbourhoods should receive financial assistance, he explained.
Van Loan said communities are primarily the responsibility of municipalities and provinces but that the federal government is available to help "when we can."
He told reporters he was struck by the amount of damage the tornado inflicted on hundreds of homes.
"It's remarkable and fortunate that there was no loss of life," he said.
About 600 homes were damaged by the tornado and city officials say more than 40 houses and a school suffered severe structural damage.
Jackson accompanied Van Loan and York Region Police Chief Armand La Barge on a tour of the devastated communities Saturday morning.
She said there's still a lot of work to be done but that she's encouraged by the level of co-operation she's seeing among emergency officials and the community.
"There's always small things but overall we're doing okay," she told reporters. "I'm happy to report we're seeing significant work being done. There's a lot of boarding up and a lot of cleaning up."
Jackson said she has spent a lot of time speaking with residents of Vaughan's Woodbridge neighbourhood, one of the hardest hit communities.
"The spirit of residents is still good, they're a little afraid," she said. "The shock is finally hitting them. There's a lot of structural damage and now a lot of residents know that it's going to be a long time until they can come back to their homes."
Jackson said Vaughan is still under a state of emergency but that she is meeting with other top officials Saturday afternoon to reassess the situation. She is expected to update the public in the late afternoon on whether she will upgrade the status.
La Barge said he will also meet with officials this afternoon to discuss how long police will stay on patrol in the area. He said officers will remain stationed at three locations in the area that have suffered the most damage. He said so far, police have had no problems keeping the area secure from potential looters.
"We're obviously on alert for that and so far, we've had none of those instances reported and frankly, I'd be shocked and surprised if we had anything like that," he said.
"These are very close neighbourhoods, very close-knit communities and we see evidence of that everywhere. People are looking out for each other here."
A string of tornadoes were reported throughout southern Ontario, from Milton to Newmarket and Durham Region. An 11-year-old boy died in Durham when he was hit by debris.