A state of emergency is in place in Angus and right across Essa Township after a tornado touched down Tuesday afternoon.

Environment Canada's Rob Kuhn confirmed Tuesday night that it was a tornado that struck Angus, destroying vehicles and about 50 homes. Three people were injured. 

It all happened in less than a minute

“My son and I were outside watching, just looking at the clouds going by,” says Amy Meyers. And then the unthinkable happened in the quiet neighbourhood.

“The sky went green and there was a burst of everything,” Meyers says. “I got to the top of my stairs and the windows in my house smashed and my roof caved in.”

Her son Grayson could only think of his little brother.

“I quickly ran and got my brother downstairs and the tornado touched,” Grayson says.

The path went right through their back yard.

Officers tell CTV News the tornado did the most damage along Stonemount Crescent and Banting Crescent. A number of houses had their roofs lifted right off. And neighbours couldn't believe what they saw.

“We could see severe red and orange on the weather map and then noticed out the window rain and high winds and then I noticed fire on be 5th line on the hydro lines and then heard a big boom,” recalls Bob Savaryn. “And then our whole backyard was disrupted by siding and roof shingles flying everywhere.”

Crews spent the better part of Tuesday evening going from door-to-door checking to make sure people were okay and then asking them to leave the area.

Christopher Bentley, who lived on the street that appeared to have sustained the worst damage, said his own home had been spared but his neighbour's home and a house across the street had been badly hit by what could have been a tornado.

"The first levels have been sheared right off, the top level of the houses," he said. "Normally you see a two-storey house with a peaked roof, now it's one level, straight across."

Bentley said his neighbours are stunned, but coping.

"They want to get into their house, to get some stuff, to just make sure that they're ok for the night, that's all they're really worried about right now," he said, adding that fire officials were escorting residents into their damaged homes to collect some belongings as streets in the neighbourhood were cordoned off with police tape.

Everyone whose house was hit had to leave, however, and they’re not sure when they can go back.

As soon as the storm moved out, people in Angus came together to help their neighbors.

The Angus Recreation Centre has been set up as a coordination center.

The south-end rec centre is also being used as a registration area for residents who have had their homes damaged by the tornado. It’s helping to account for everybody in the area and connect them with friends and family.

Food and lodging is available for anybody who needs it. Volunteers estimate that 70 families have registered but so far everybody has found alternative accommodations.

Next door at the Nottawasaga Pines secondary school the OPP has set up their command centre. The paramedics are also there.

“We transported three people to area hospital with non-life threatening injuries,” says Stephen Trafford with Simcoe County Paramedic Services. “Outside of that it's mainly first aid, band aids, cuts, and bruises…”

The registration area is expected to stay open as people trickle in.

Environment Canada had issued tornado warnings for several communities in the area as a line of severe thunderstorms with embedded tornadoes moved into the Lake Simcoe region.

The weather agency had said the storms were bringing wind gusts of over 100 kilometres per hour and warned that large hail was likely.

With files from The Canadian Press