Premier Ford heading to Ottawa to survey tornado damage

Premier Ford heading to Ottawa to survey tornado damage
Tornado hits Ottawa-Gatineau area, damaging buildings and flipping cars
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.

It was eerily quiet inside the police perimeter of one of Dunrobin's most-damaged neighbourhoods — and only a few trees were still standing. Personal items were strewn everywhere — a baby blanket, a life jacket, mattresses, lawn mowers, a fridge, a kitchen sink lying on the grass and even a love seat wrapped around a telephone pole.

Video: Ottawa mayor warns it could be days before power returns

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.

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.

Chris Fischer, the founder of Ocearch and the expedition leader, said white sharks are known to mate around Nantucket, Mass., and give birth off the south shore of Long Island, N.Y. But, he said Hilton and a female tagged shark named Lydia didn't go to those areas, indicating they may be spending their time mating in other areas.

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.

The August reading stayed above the mid-point of the Bank of Canada's target range of one to three per cent. The bank, however, has described the hotter readings in recent months as temporary and has predicted inflation to fall back towards two per cent in early 2019 once the effects of past increases in gas prices fade away.

Clean-up efforts underway in Gatineau after tornado

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

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

The team was drawn to the area after one of Ocearch's tagged sharks — an adult male named Hilton, known for a wry Twitter feed that regularly tweets out his movements — ventured into the region last fall and then returned this year, suggesting he was here seeking out a mating partner.

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. 

There have been numerous reports of power outages, damaged property and fallen trees. Due to the high volume of calls, Ottawa residents are asked to remain patient as workers respond to calls on a priority basis. Forestry Services has been clearing roads of fallen trees from high winds and Building Code Services staff are visiting buildings to assess damage and safety of the buildings affected.

Heres where power is out across the region

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. 

Ottawa residents are asked to avoid damaged areas and stay off roads unless absolutely necessary. Expect traffic delays in the coming days as support will be required throughout the weekend.

"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.

Residents in the Dunrobin area displaced by the suspected tornado can go to an emergency reception area located at West Carleton High School, 3088 Dunrobin Road.

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.  

Approximately 25 residents were injured in the severe weather episode and at least six residents were taken to hospital for treatment.

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

"We weren't home, thank goodness. We weren't far from home, but when we finally did make it back to the house, the foundation is what's left — we've pretty much lost everything," he said. "I have got a beer fridge that's sitting in my garage — that is about the only thing that is untouched — but everything else has gone."

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

"I'm still in shock. I saw it face to face, it blew my window and it exploded. I almost died because the wind came through my window and it almost took me with it," Luclaire Loutanjou, a resident of the district, said in an interview Saturday. "I've seen it on TV and movies in America but I'm like, wow, how can this happen in Canada?"

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

In a subsequent interview with CBC News, Conrad said he has never had so many customers without power during his tenure at the municipal-owned electrical utility. He called it a "crisis" that will not be solved until that Hydro One transmission substation is up and running again, feeding power to an energy-starved local distribution system.

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

In addition to destroying some of the city's electrical infrastructure, the tornados sent five people to local hospitals — two are in critical condition, one is in serious condition and the other two are stable. Others in neighbouring Gatineau, on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River, were also transported to hospital with injuries.

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.

"Literally it looks like some bomb was dropped from the area, and the aerial footage I saw, the paramedics have provided a drone … it looks like something you'd see in a movie or in tornado alley in Oklahoma," Watson said of Dunrobin, a small community on the western reaches of the city, where residents were hardest hit.

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

There were also a number of fires reported late Friday and into early Saturday morning in Ottawa-Gatineau as a result of people burning candles for light, putting additional pressure on the already stretched first responders. Authorities urged people without power to use battery-powered devices, rather than an open flame.

"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. 

A response centre has been set up in the Gabrielle-Roy Pavilion in the Cégep de l'Outaouais, located at 333 Boulevard de la Cité-des-Jeunes in Hull. More than 585 people have registered at the centre so far, and more than 200 have been assisted with housing. 

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. 

Firefighters and police are inspecting damaged areas. Due to the clean-up, Boulevard Saint-Joseph is closed to all traffic between Boulevard Mont-Bleu and the Jean-Proulx roundabout.

City crews responding to storm damage

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. 

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

Crews in Gatineau are beginning to clean up after a powerful tornado touched down there Friday, damaging dozens of buildings and knocking out power to tens of thousands.

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.

A release from the city stated it is "premature" to begin thinking about volunteering, but a call will go out to citizens when a coordinated approach is arranged.

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.

By the afternoon, the city of Gatineau had begun an organized return for about two-thirds of displaced residents. Firefighters and engineers had determined that most of the buildings in the hardest hit area of Gatineau, north and west of the intersection of Lucien-Braille and the Gatineau Autoroute, were safe, even though they were still without power. The water service there, though, was said to be fine. Residents were being asked asked to register at the emergency centre before boarding buses to travel to the buildings. Officials said the buses were expected begin at 3 p.m. and expect the operation to last four or five hours.

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. 

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

Ten of Canadas most high-profile tornadoes

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

WAR SCENE: Capital region still reeling after intense tornado rips through

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.

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

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

"We have a job to do as media, but at the same time we're providing light, so they can actually see where the dog is," Day told CBC Ottawa Friday night.

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.

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.

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.

Its devastating: Tornado levels houses, leaves trail of destruction in Ottawa, Gatineau

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 dog was very shaken up, but to the credit of the neighbours who knew the dog, they got it out. And the dog seemed to be OK," Day said.

Tornado rips through eastern Ontario (VIDEO & GALLERY)

"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.

Day was interviewing a family whose home was destroyed by the tornado when a neighbour ran over, telling him the dog was in trouble.

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

"They're just very grateful that, in a time of complete destruction, something is salvageable — especially a life."

Ottawa residents could be without power for days after tornado devastates Hydro One station

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.

Mark Choma, a spokesperson for Bell, said the company's cellular towers are intact, but electricity is an issue in some areas. Choma said service is largely unaffected, and Bell is bringing in more generators to make sure they have power.

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

I was lucky: Man records video from inside tornado

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.

If electrical wires come in contact with your home or car, do not touch the wires. Call the power company immediately and don't exit your car. If you come across downed power poles or lines, stay at least 10 metres back.

Tornado levels houses, leaves trail of destruction

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

Power was restored Saturday afternoon to some areas of Ottawa-Gatineau that experienced outages after two tornadoes struck the area Friday night, but tens of thousands of households across the region are still without power.

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.

Injuries, damage reported after confirmed tornado blows through Dunrobin, Gatineau

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.

Power could be out for days in some areas, hours for others

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.

The storms bite continued to be felt across a wide swath of the region many hours later, with more than 150,000 customers still without power Saturday afternoon. Hydro Ottawa CEO Bryce Conrad compared the magnitude of the damage to the power grid to the debilitating ice storm of 1998.

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

OTTAWA — Parts of Canadas national capital were still reeling Saturday after a powerful tornado carved paths of destruction through residential neighbourhoods — snapping huge trees, tossing cars and obliterating homes along its way.

Tornado rips through Ottawa and Gatineau

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

The tornado inflicted heavy damage late Friday as it churned across pockets of Ottawas west and south ends, as well as densely populated sections of the neighbouring Quebec city of Gatineau.

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

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.

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

"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.

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.

Environment Canada assessing damage from EF-3 tornado

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