Angus church, parishioners unscathed by tornado

  • June 17, 2014

Parishioners of Our Lady of Grace parish have been spared from the brunt of active weather that swept through Angus, Ont., on June 17. 

Just south of the church, a tornado ripped through a newly built subdivision of homes, leaving many homeless as local officials ordered many residents to evacuate. About 100 homes were damaged, many with their roofs sheered right off.

"It's amazing to see houses destroyed around my parishioners," said Fr. Mariush Runevich, pastor of Our Lady of Grace. "I was checking on my parishioners. Their homes, so far, were not touched."

Runevich is also a chaplain with the Ontario Provincial Police. He was on the ground from 5:30 p.m. to midnight on the night of the storm, working with police evacuating residents and searching for the trapped, injured or possible fatalities. The Angus area, west of Barrie, Ont., was among the hardest hit from the storm that swept across Southern Ontario, bringing torrential rains. The only reported injuries came at a golf course in Stouffville, where four golfers were struck by lightning and sent to hospital.

Amidst the devastation, Runevich said, there has been a sense of "great unity." While he worked, people untouched by the disaster showed up with food and water for community members less fortunate. 

Neighbours are helping each other clean up, said Runevich. After police complete their assessments of the extent of the damage, he will have a fuller sense of the community's need in the wake of the tornado. 

"For now, we just have to wait," he said. 

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