Slow cleanup 3 weeks after the tornado swept through Barrie, Ontario.

TORONTO – Almost three weeks after an EF-2 tornado ravaged a community in southern Barrie, cleanup is slowly progressing as more residents gain access to their homes.

“It sinks in and it’s been quite a trip,” said Bailey Hartley, who just returned home with her husband and daughter on Monday after living in a hotel and renting a spot on AirBnB.

All windows are boarded up and inside, floors have been removed and parts of the ceiling cut out due to water damage after crews were able to clean up debris left in the wake of the tornado.

“It’s weird because there’s no floor, a lot of your furniture is gone – we’ve owned this house for seven years next month, so we’ve built a life here and it’s sad to this way.”

Chantal Belley was allowed to return to her home on weekends and clean up the broken glass.

The tornado smashed windows and ripped shingles off the side and back of his house. Belley is now waiting for her insurance company to finish assessing the damage and has been told repairs could take months, possibly longer.

“I was told the coating could take a year, we could have fitted windows until winter because with Covid there were supply issues,” Belley said. “There are definitely concerns, we don’t have full coverage, we might have more water damage.”

Currently, 70 dwellings have been deemed uninhabitable. More than 200 others were damaged. The city has granted access to 39 properties.

“There are at least 20 to 25 houses with lost roofs, which means the house is written off and needs to be demolished,” said Glenn McGillvray of the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction, who sent a team to assess the damage.

McGillvray said the cost of repairing homes could rise as well.

“Lumber prices have skyrocketed – the price of drywall and hiring contractors could be difficult. “

As damage assessment and cleanup continues, the community continues to rally with those affected.

Donations continue to be collected and distributed to those most in need of help, while an army of volunteers help with the cleanup efforts.

“For families, it comes back to their homes and tries to decide what I need versus what I want, a lot of their food and toiletries – things we take for granted.” said Sher Braun who has helped a dozen families with her on the Clean-up Barrie initiative.

The Ontario government recently announced that it is activating the Disaster Recovery Assistance for Ontarians (DRAO) program to support affected residents.

DRAO covers emergency expenses and the costs of repairing or replacing essential goods after a natural disaster for a primary residence and its basic contents, a small business, a farm or a rural non-profit organization.

Residents without insurance coverage or insufficient insurance coverage for essential costs will have until November 26, 2021 to apply under the program.

– With files from CTV News Barrie

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