Home / Around Canada / Uxbridge, Ottawa balancing storm cleanup, school closures days after storm destruction

Uxbridge, Ottawa balancing storm cleanup, school closures days after storm destruction

A vehicle is seen among downed power lines and utility poles after a major storm on Merivale Road in Ottawa on Saturday, May 21, 2022.
Ottawa’s mayor said the city hopes to have power restored to all residents by Friday as it grapples with the fallout of a deadly storm deemed worse than the 1998 Ice Storm and the 2018 tornadoes. 

Mayor Jim Watson said at a Wednesday press conference that most residents should have power within the next two to three days. He added that he spoke with Premier Doug Ford Wednesday morning and was assured the province would be picking up the bill for the cleanup. There has been no word on funding for cleanup in the other hard-hit regions.

“He assured me that the full cost of the storm cleanup will be covered by the province. I appreciate that very much,” said Watson.

As of 1 p.m. Wednesday, Hydro Ottawa said there were still about 55,000 customers without power across their service area, with power having been restored to about 125,000 customers.

There is “extensive damage” to both the provincial transmission system (Hydro One) and Hydro Ottawa’s local distribution system, Hydro Ottawa said.

“We’re making progress on all fronts but road closures and traffic impacts are ongoing due to fallen trees and debris on the roadways. We need to ensure access for hydro and city workers as well as emergency vehicles. We continue to advise residents to stay off the roads if possible,” Watson said.

Bryce Conrad, president of Ottawa Hydro, said more than 250 additional hydro workers are either in Ottawa already or arriving Thursday from other parts of the province to help rebuild more than half of the city’s power grid that was destroyed or damaged. Toronto Hydro has sent 26 employees to Ottawa. It’s unclear how long they’ll be there.

“This is by far the most devastating weather event we have experienced to date,” he said, adding he expects the vast majority of customers to be back on the grid by Friday evening.

Jason Pollard, section manager of forestry at the City of Ottawa, said the city has received 2,400 calls from homeowners about downed trees since Saturday, and each call the forestry officials attend generally includes multiple trees. He said it’s too soon to determine how many trees came down, but it is in the thousands.

The city is conducting a “Green bin blitz” in the neighbourhoods most affected by the storm, Watson said.

“City crews are working to remove tree branches in yard ways but it will take several weeks … you’re not going to see all of this cleaned up right away,” he added.

Watson said 40 firefighters from the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry would be helping the city with clean up and that they have allocated $1.9 million from their Social Services Relief Fund to help community organizations such as food banks with making sure people have access to food.

Reception centres have been set up throughout Ottawa for residents who need to access amenities like washrooms and showers. There are also multiple locations providing bottled water for people who have lost access to well water.

Ottawa city services that have been affected include child care centres, client service centres, Ottawa Public Health and the elections office.

There is still a long list of schools that are closed as of Thursday at both the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board and the Ottawa Catholic School Board. Parents can visit the boards’ respective website to learn if their local school is affected.

In Uxbridge, Ont., Environment Canada has confirmed that a tornado touched down during Saturday’s storm.

Three communities, including Uxbridge, declared states of emergency to respond to the storm and more than 150,000 customers across Ontario were still without power on Wednesday morning.

One Uxbridge couple reported that the storm was so intense it ripped off the roof of their home.

Jeffery Bolingbroke and Brittany Risebrough recalled sitting on their front deck and barely making it inside for cover as their porch collapsed and trees flew through the window during the vicious storm.

Days later, the family is picking up the pieces while staying in an Airbnb, juggling meetings with insurance providers, the operation of their landscaping business and trying to ensure Risebrough’s 12-year-old daughter has some semblance of stability.

“It’s so much on them,” Bolingbroke said Wednesday of the impact of the storm’s fallout on children.

“Just through a pandemic … then we just get settled in a new place, and then this happens. We’re just trying to keep spirits up. That’s all.”

Several schools in the area remained closed as of Wednesday.

Trees that had fallen in the doorway and across the grounds of Uxbridge Public School were just being cleared away by early afternoon, as the neighbourhood buzzed with the sound of backup generators powering residents’ refrigerators and other essentials.

In Toronto, cleanup efforts continue, with the city having received 3,900 storm service requests since Saturday. As of Wednesday, there were a total of 41 crews out with cranes, bucket trucks and ground equipment responding to hazards and clearing roads and trees from hydro lines.

At the peak of the storm, approximately 110,000 Toronto Hydro customers were without power, but they have since restored power to 99.8 per cent of affected customers.

A spokesperson for Toronto Hydro said in an email that they’re still assessing the full extent of the damage.

“Extreme weather events will always put stress on our people, systems and processes, but the emergency response improvements that were implemented in the aftermath of the ice storm almost ten years ago have served us well in being able to respond to unexpected grid emergencies,” Toronto Hydro said in a statement.

Environment Canada said a derecho – a rare widespread windstorm associated with a line of thunderstorms – developed near Sarnia, Ont., on Saturday and moved northeastward across the province.

The Toronto District School Board does not currently have any schools closed as a result of the storm. The one school that was affected (A Y Jackson Secondary School) has since reopened.

The Toronto Catholic District School Board did not respond to a request for an update Wednesday evening.

Toronto residents are advised to call 311 for requests related to city-owned trees or branches that need to be cleared. Residents still need to contact a tree service company for clean up on private property.

With files from the Canadian Press


Omar Mosleh is an Edmonton-based reporter for the Star. Follow him on Twitter: @OmarMosleh


Credit belongs to : www.thestar.com


Bank employee stabbed ‘multiple times’ in Chinatown bank robbery

A bank employee was stabbed multiple times in Chinatown in an attempted bank robbery, Toronto …