NEWS

Quebec praises 1st responders in tornado

05/28/2012 04:34 EDT | Updated 07/28/2012 05:12 EDT

Quebec Public Security Minister Robert Dutil visited St-Benoît de Mirabel Monday, to survey the damage after a tornado struck the community northwest of Montreal on Friday evening.

He praised community members for banding together so quickly to clean up after the violent storm.

The tornado — packing winds of up to 150 km/h — ripped the rooftops off farm buildings, toppled hydro poles and downed power lines, smashed windows and uprooted many trees.

The Grande Fresnière Scottish Presbyterian church, built in 1855, collapsed in the storm, and rubble toppled several tombstones in the centuries-old graveyard.

The tornado also damaged the grounds of the Pied de Cochon sugar shack, owned by famed Montreal chef Martin Picard, and downed several maple trees.

Dutil congratulates Mirabel first responders

Speaking at a news conference from Mirabel Monday, Dutil said he is thankful nobody was hurt, and he praised firefighters for their work to secure the community, as first responders.

"It's regrettable when events like this happen," Dutil said. "But when they do, we see that there are people at hand to do their work and help fellow citizens to put things right as quickly as possible. Bravo."

Dutil said the government will wait for homeowners to evaluate the damage and contact their insurance companies before announcing whether Quebec will provide financial aid.

Farmers are being told to communicate with their insurer, the Financière agricole du Québec.

Mirabel Mayor Hubert Meilleur said the municipality will move as quickly as possible to make sure, for example, that farmers and business owners are not expected to pay taxes on buildings that no longer exist.

"A lot of people around here are able to do the work themselves," Meilleur said. "Farmers know how to build a building."

But he warned that it's important to make sure all architectural plans are signed off on and engineering standards are met, to ensure replacement buildings are insurable.

Meilleur estimates damage from the storm at around $3-million. He said ten homes and farm properties suffered extensive losses.

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