A church sits in ruins after a tornado ripped through Goderich on Sunday August 21st, 2011.
Credits: CRAIG GLOVER The London Free Press / QMI AGENCY
And the mayor of the devastated town vowed that the town of 8,000 will rise from the disaster.
"We will recover," promised Mayor Deb Shewfelt, who has struggled emotionally with the destruction. "We will recover.
"Words are not enough to describe the destruction. It is unbelievable."
Following a brief tour of the town 24 hours after Sunday's tornado ripped into its core, McGuinty, with Shewfelt and MPP Carol Mitchell at his side, said the entire province is behind the town.
"I have never seen such devastation," McGuinty said, noting his 21 years in public life. "This is significant. It can be overwhelming ... but we will find a way forward together."
One man was killed and 37 people injured. Police said no one remains missing.
McGuinty said earlier in the day the Ontario cabinet approved the emergency funding which will allow the town to rebuild but also can be used to "top up" losses to homes and businesses that may not be fully covered by insurance.
"People of Goderich, you are not alone," he said, adding the sympathies and prayers of the 13 million Ontarians are behind the community.
"It's one of my favourite communities in terms of how beautiful it is," he said. "We should set ourselves a vision of fully restoring that beauty."
McGuinty praised the leadership of Shewfelt and emergency responders and work crews who came from across the region.
"I am inspired," the premier told an army of reporters. "It is strange how a disaster brings the very best out in people."
As chainsaws hacked away at massive trees that devastated the core area, city officials said water and sewage services are fine, but natural gas and electricity will take awhile to restore.
A few hundred residents unable to return to their homes until officials say they are structural safe were being fed and tended to at an emergency shelter in the Knights of Columbus Hall in the south of town.
Shewfelt and town administrator Larry McCabe said there is no shortage of offers of help and as many as 400 emergency workers can be accommodated. Shewfelt said volunteers from a Muslim group to 100 home-builders in Stratford, Ont., have stepped forward.
Aside from damaging the core, the tornado, which cut a 500-metre-wide swath, heavily damaged the Sifto Salt mine at the lakefront where the lone fatality occurred. Salt domes, conveyor belts and the plant's transformer lay in ruins, raising concerns about the supply of rock salt it supplies to Ontario municipalities.
In all, about 150 buildings were damaged, primarily in the core around the Huron County courthouse, where every window was smashed. West St. leading up from the harbour looked like a war zone with vehicles tossed about and roofs ripped off buildings.