Canadas capital region reeling after intense tornado rips through communities

Canada\s capital region reeling after intense tornado rips through communities
Looks as if there was never a house there: Ottawa-Gatineau tornado causes mass power outages, 6 in hospital
Two people remained in critical condition in hospital and tens of thousands were still without power Saturday, a day after a tornado ripped through parts of the Ottawa and Gatineau, Que., area.

The two individuals were among six taken to hospital after a twister touched down in Dunrobin — a rural community in Ottawa's west end — where multiple homes were severely damaged before it headed east across the Ottawa River toward Gatineau Park, according to Environment Canada.

But for Gatineau resident Vincent-Carl Leriche, that was enough to capture a terrifying video from the inside of a tornado that ripped through areas in the nation’s capital on Friday.

On Saturday morning, Hydro Ottawa reported that 171,462 customers were still without electricity, and more than 80 poles were damaged or torn down. As well, 38,909 Hydro-Québec customers were without power as of 9:22 a.m. ET.

“When you are seeing the tornado, it looks like an eternity, but in fact, it was just over a minute,” Leriche told Global News.

It is unclear when power will be fully restored. Traffic lights were also out in several spots across Ottawa. They should be treated as a four-way stop.

As of 7 a.m., six people from the Ottawa area had been taken to hospital, according to the Ottawa Hospital. As well as the two in critical condition, one person was in serious condition, two were stable and one was in fair condition.

A dozen other minor injuries were reported, according to Ottawa's general manager of emergency services. 

What you should know in the hours and days after the tornado

Early reports from Gatineau said five people sustained injuries and were taken to hospital, while hundreds were left to seek shelter.

READ MORE: At least 2 tornadoes touch down near Ottawa; about 185,000 without power in Ontario and Quebec

Emergency crews on scene in Dunrobin area after storm

Anthony Di Monte said earlier there were reports of 30 to 40 damaged homes in the community, and indications some people could be trapped in buildings. 

Good samaritans Alison Hurleigh with her daughter Jasmine Mackinnon, 7, (C) and friend Emma Lawrie(L), 8, on Saturday morning as residents in Ottawa's west end deal with the aftermath of the twister that touched down on Friday afternoon. Alison owns a generator which enabled them to make coffee. Photo by Wayne Cuddington/ Postmedia  Wayne Cuddington/Postmedia

In these situations, we kind of have to go house to house. Power's down. Communication is problematic. And in a couple of areas, fire [department] is indicating that some people are trapped and we're attending to them," he said. 

Jon Enos (R) and Zach Edwards (L) hang a Canadian flag they retrieved from the Arlington Woods home they were helping to clear of downed trees from on Saturday morning as residents in Ottawa's west end deal with the aftermath of the twister that touched down on Friday afternoon.  Wayne Cuddington/Postmedia

Tornado hits nations capital and Gatineau, Quebec

"My thoughts and prayers are with the people that were affected, and my thanks goes out to the first responders who are doing an amazing job," said Merrilee Fullerton, legislature member for Kanata-Carleton.

"I would have to say there are about 20 houses severely affected, probably more," Fullerton said.

Just back from the #tornado zone in #Gatineau. This car is my sister-in-law's car. She was in it with her son when tornardos broke on Mont-Bleu. They're fine, but not everyone in those buildings with no roof are OK. 1st responders are amazing. Angels too! Denault Philippe L. @phldenault  /OTTwp

The power loss "is not concentrated anywhere. It is just spread across the city, from Kanata all the way to Orleans," said Joseph Muglia, director of distribution operations with Hydro Ottawa. 

The power company is in "damage assessment stage," said Muglia, and there are hopes efforts to restore service will start Saturday morning.  

Ian MacArthur with his dog "Buddy" outside his damaged home on Riverbrook Rd in the Arlington Woods neighbourhood on Saturday morning as residents in Ottawa's west end deal with the aftermath of the twister that touched down on Friday afternoon.  Wayne Cuddington/Postmedia

"We hope to gain some control of that overnight and certainly by morning we will start to see those numbers come down." 

"I toured Dunrobin, particularily, with Councillor Eli El-Chanitry [Friday]," said the mayor. "You could see that it looked like it was something from a movie scene or a war scene, literally dozens and dozens — my understanding is 60 buildings destroyed or partially destroyed in the Dunrobin area. And then in councillor Egli's area, severe damage — hydro poles and trees crashing onto roofs."

"This is the worst storm that we have dealt with in the history of Ottawa … at least since 1998."

To everyone dealing with the aftermath of the tornado in Dunrobin, ON & the Ottawa-Gatineau area – stay safe, follow the instructions of first responders and check in with people who might need extra help. We’re monitoring the situation and thinking of everyone affected. #onstorm

Friday's storm "tracked for quite a significant distance," said Peter Kimbell, a warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment Canada. 

Watson added there has been no problem with the city's water supply, and OC Transpo is operating as usual for the most part. The only change is that the O-Train has been shut down. OC Transpo is running Route #2 to replace the train.

"We know for sure that there was a tornado in Gatineau because we have colleagues of mine who actually saw it."

Based on damage reports, the tornado was likely an EF-2, meaning it had sustained winds of 179 to 218 km/h. The tornado caused considerable damage, dozens of roofs were blown off homes, many trees were snapped or uprooted, and electrical transmission towers continue to be affected.

More than 20 people received medical treatment Friday night. Five people were still in hospital Saturday morning — two in critical condition, two in stable condition and one in serious condition.

Local Coun. Eli El-Chantiry, speaking from the corner of Dunrobin and Thomas Dolan roads, said there are at least 20 damaged homes nearby. 

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson gave an update at a news conference Saturday morning, saying there have been no fatalities as a result of Friday night's tornado, and no one has been reported missing.

Tornado levels houses, leaves trail of destruction

"In 30 years, I've never seen anything like this. It's devastating, the way it is now."

He said West Carleton High School, where the Red Cross is setting up, and the Dunrobin Community Centre are open to residents seeking shelter. 

The City of Gatineau has opened a disaster relief centre on the Gabrielle-Roy campus of Cégep de l'Outaouais at 333 boulevard de la Cité-des-Jeunes.

El-Chantiry said emergency calls should go to 911, while people seeking other help should call 311. The city has asked people not to tie up those numbers unless the need is urgent. 

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Judi Varga-Toth, who is running against El-Chantiry in the Oct. 22 municipal election, said her home, in the same area, is literally the only one standing on her street. 

Anyone in Dunrobin who's been displaced because of the storm can go to an emergency centre at West Carleton High School at 3088 Dunrobin Rd.

"I'm looking at where my next-door neighbour's house is and it looks as if there was never a house there."

Her husband was home when the storm hit and their neighbour was badly hurt, she said. He brought the neighbour's child home when the woman was taken to hospital.

Varga-Toth was at a local rural fair when, shortly before 4:30 p.m., everyone was told to get into the hockey arena or curling club. As the storm passed, arena-goers began getting texts about the devastation in Dunrobin.

There were also reports of heavy damage in the Hunt Club and Greenbank Road areas in south Ottawa, including downed power lines. Kimbell, the meteorologist, said damage is likely the result of a downburst — another kind of violent wind disturbance, and not the tornado. 

Ottawa Paramedics responding to 16 tornado related calls in Dunrobin area – patients trapped in houses – people trapped in basements – patients trapped in cars – power lines down – trauma from debris – secondary trauma from high winds #onstorm#ottnews pic.twitter.com/jF5KqXurkP

The National Capital Commission tweeted out that Gatineau Park would be closed until further notice. 

Ottawa paramedics initially responded to 16 'tornado-related' calls in the immediate aftermath of the storm which  blew through the area around 5 p.m., Friday, before making its way across the Ottawa River and into Gatineau.

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A tornado damaged buildings and flipped over cars as it tore its way through the Ottawa area to Gatineau on Friday.

Anthony Di Monte, chief of Ottawa Emergency and Protective Services, told CTV News that there are currently 30 known injuries across the city with five people in Dunrobin suffering critical injuries.

The Ottawa Hospital said late Friday night it had received six patients, two of them in critical condition.

There were also a number of other fires reported late Friday and into early Saturday morning in Ottawa-Gatineau as a result of people burning candles for light.

In photos: Scenes of destruction after tornado tears through Ottawa and Quebec

Videos and images on social media showed toppled trees, roofs ripped apart and streets littered with debris. One video posted to Twitter showed people rescuing a Beagle that had been trapped under rubble.

It is a priority for CBC to create a website that is accessible to all Canadians including people with visual, hearing, motor and cognitive challenges.

A spokesperson for Environment and Climate Change Canada told CTVNews.ca that the tornado first touched down near Dunrobin, Ont., causing "pretty significant" damage before heading across the Ottawa River.

A tornado ripped through the Ottawa-Gatineau area Friday and tens of thousands are left without power, relying on candles and flashlights.

The City of Ottawa tweeted to confirm two locations of suspected tornado damage, with emergency staff responding to the Dunrobin and Hunt Club/Greenbank Road areas.

"The devastation is unreal," said witness Matthew Bowen. He said that approximately 10 houses and an entire mini mall in the area near his familys restaurant in Dunrobin were destroyed.

There were no injuries but the Canadian Red Cross is assisting the four children and two adults who were displaced.

The tornado made it as far as Highway 50 near Gatineau — nearly 40 km away — overturning several cars along the way.

Environment Canada has dispatched teams from Montreal to survey the damage, and will send teams to the Ottawa area tomorrow to try and determine the strength of the storm.

Kimbell explained that tornado warnings are still in effect for the Ontario communities of Prescott and Russell while a line of thunderstorms was expected in Gatineau and Ottawa.

Early estimates suggest that the tornado will be classified as an EF-2, with winds topping more than 200 km/h.

Meanwhile, the Greater Toronto Area saw wind gusts of up to 80 kilometres per hour, he said. About 11,000 residents in the area were without power Friday because of the storm.

The probability of being affected by a tornado is very, very small. And even if you look at Ottawa, the coverage of this particular tornadic storm was actually quite small. But for the people affected, its devastating, said Peter Kimbell, a meteorologist with the agency.

Peter Kimbell, a meteorologist with the national weather agency, said the tornado overturned cars on Highway 50 in Gatineau and caused extensive damage to houses in Dunrobin.

I only have a day like this a couple times in my career. So yeah, its pretty remarkable, said Kimbell.

Suspected EF-2 tornado rips through Ottawa-Gatineau area

Environment Canada measures the intensity of wind damage using something called the Enhanced Fujita Scale, or EF-Scale. This six-point scale ranks events such as tornadoes from zero to five, with the latter being the most severe category.

Fire trucks lined the streets in Gatineau, where debris covered entire roads. The tornado caused massive billboards to be overturned by the Sabourin area.

Updated: Its devastating: Tornado levels houses, leaves trail of destruction

The EF-Scale also incorporates 31 damage indicators that include everything from the state of trees to houses to office buildings. In other words, these indicators essentially tell you the wind speeds needed to cause varying degrees of damage.

Environment Canada confirmed today that a tornado ripped through parts of Ottawa and Gatineau, Quebec, damaging cars and homes in the process.

For example, a one or two family residence can expect to see some visible damage if winds reach 105 km/h. With 195 km/h winds, such a dwelling would be expected to shift off its foundation while large sections of its roof would be removed. When winds hit 320 km/h, a house like this would be expected to be totally destroyed.

In Gatineau, the storm passed through within minutes, knocking out power lines and trapping people in their vehicles and homes.

It is a priority for CBC to create a website that is accessible to all Canadians including people with visual, hearing, motor and cognitive challenges.

Residents of one six story apartment building were evacuated after the winds tore the roof from the building.

Nepean if you are out of power come for a hot meal and coffee at Larkin Housein Barrhaven. Busy crowd, lots of food and all of your neighbours.

"There is no more ceiling, no more top on the top of the building where I live," witness Sylvain Cote said. "It was crazy."

Power outages are expected to last for a number of days after a tornado touched down Friday in the Ottawa-Gatineau area.

The storm also appears to have caused a fire at Mont-Bleu Secondary School in Gatineau, with the latest report from CTV Ottawas Joel Haslam reporting that the school has essentially burnt down.

"To everyone dealing with the aftermath of the tornado in Dunrobin, ON & the Ottawa-Gatineau area – stay safe, follow the instructions of first responders and check in with people who might need extra help," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Twitter.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said on Twitter that Ottawa emergency services are going door-to-door in affected areas to check on residents, and offer assistance in getting to a relief shelter opened up at a nearby high school.

On Saturday morning, Hydro Ottawa reported that approximately 171,000 customers were still without power as a result of 200 outages across their service area. Hydro Quebec said approximately 114,000 residents were in the dark on Saturday and that more than 200 teams were working to restore service to those affected.

Photos: Tornado and violent storm rip through Ottawa-Gatineau area

While the weather agency warned that the situation was dangerous and potentially life-threatening, many residents seemed caught off guard by the ferocity of the storm.

Environment and Climate Change Canada had first issued a tornado warning for the Ottawa region, with subsequent warnings for Prescott and Russell United Counties east of Ottawa as well as the Papineauville – Chénéville area near Upper Gatineau.

Warnings are expected to continue into the early evening as a cold front brings near 90 km/h southwesterly wind gusts.

Tornado just went through Dunrobin, ON about 10 minutes ago. #Onstorm lots of damage. #onwx pic.twitter.com/aOZKy4kJy4

A tornado has left behind extensive damage across our region. This photo from @MICHAELCTV on Craig Henry Drive in the citys west end. #ottnews #ottweather pic.twitter.com/T2PZ5HSaYW

To everyone dealing with the aftermath of the tornado in Dunrobin, ON & the Ottawa-Gatineau area – stay safe, follow the instructions of first responders and check in with people who might need extra help. Were monitoring the situation and thinking of everyone affected. #onstorm