A major cleanup effort is underway after Saturday’s fierce storm that left at least seven dead and hundreds of thousands without power after it ripped through southern Ontario and Quebec.
Police say six deaths in Ontario were caused by falling trees as high winds caused widespread damage, while a woman in Quebec was killed when a boat she was in capsized in the Ottawa River near Masson-Angers.
Storm damage has prompted the Ontario cities of Uxbridge, north of Toronto, and Clarence-Rockland, east of Ottawa, to declare states of emergency, while hundreds of thousands in both provinces remain without power as Crews work to restore services.
Hydropower providers, however, warn that some could take days to recover power.
“Between trees, branches, broken poles and downed wires, it’s really a very, very messy cleanup,” said Hydro One spokeswoman Tiziana Baccega Rosa.
She said that while it is not unusual to have such a high number of people temporarily without power, which for Hydro One was around 270,000 on Sunday morning, the extent of the damage, including the toppling of metal transmission towers in the Ottawa area, is remarkable.
“That’s unique, and it tells you the severity of the storm,” he said.
Hydro Ottawa said that as of 9:00 a.m. Sunday morning it had reduced the number of local blackouts from more than 1,000 to 575, but that some 176,500 customers were still affected.
The utility company could not say when most of the problems were likely to be resolved, adding that 200 hydroelectric poles had been downed or destroyed.
“The damage is deep,” the utility said in a Twitter update on Sunday.
Hydro-Québec said that at its peak, the storm knocked out power to 550,000 customers from Gatineau to Québec City, while about 370,000 customers were still without power around noon Sunday.
Sophie Desjardins, who lives in Lachute, northwest of Montreal, posted a photo of what was left of her truck after a tree crashed into the vehicle while she was driving home with her boyfriend.
“The sky got so dark and the wind was so strong,” Desjardins said Sunday.
“We felt a huge impact and the window shattered… When we saw the condition of the truck, we realized we had been very lucky. If the tree had fallen two seconds earlier, it would have fallen directly on us… The furniture that were in the back of the truck were completely destroyed.”
The level of damage in the two provinces was due in part to the nature of the storm, which appears to have been what is called a right, Environment and Climate Change Canada meteorologist Gerald Cheng said.
“When they say right, they are long-lasting, widespread windstorms that are associated with fast-moving thunderstorms, and that seems to be what we had yesterday,” he said. “Because when you look at the damage, it was very widespread, it wasn’t just a hint.”
The storm, with winds of up to 132 kilometers per hour, was strong enough to trigger the agency’s first use of the transmission outage weather warning system for a thunderstorm, Cheng said.
Ontario deaths from the storm include a 44-year-old man in Greater Madawaska west of Ottawa, a woman in her 70s who was out for a walk in Brampton, a 59-year-old man on a golf course in Ottawa and one person killed. in his camping trailer near Lake Pinehurst in the Waterloo region.
Provincial police said Sunday morning that a 64-year-old woman was also killed by a storm-related tree fall at a home in North Kawartha Township, and a 74-year-old woman died after being struck by a tree that fell at Port Hope.
Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath expressed her condolences during a campaign news conference in Toronto on Sunday morning.
“I want to say how much my heart goes out to the families, friends and communities where people were killed or injured by the storm.”
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on May 22, 2022.
— Archived by Ian Bickis in Toronto, Mia Rabson in Ottawa, and Virginie Ann in Montreal.
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