Zoya Tariq remembers feeling the tremor at her Barrhaven home on Thursday afternoon as the rain fell rapidly and funnel clouds rushed toward her neighborhood.
“YO [thought] we were going to die,” he said. “It was really bad… it was the worst 20 seconds of my life.”
Ottawa Fire Services said around 1 p.m. they had received reports of a tornado just east of Highway 416. Ottawa police said they had received similar reports.
Shortly thereafter, Environment Canada confirmed that at least one tornado had touched down in the southern suburb of Ottawa.
“When we came out, our house was like broken,” Tariq said. “Our garage door… our bikes, everything was gone.”
According to a Thursday night update from city officials, the tornado left at least 125 homes damaged:
- 50 houses at Umbra Place and Watercolors Way.
- 35 houses on Perseus Way and Proxima Terrace.
- 30 to 40 houses on Jockvale Road and Exeter Drive.
As of 7:30 a.m. Friday, 11 Hydro Ottawa customers were without power in the Knoxdale-Merivale district. The estimated restoration time was listed as 1 pm on Friday.
Hydro One had several small outages in eastern Ontario affecting fewer than 20 people near Innisville, Kingston and Pembroke, and is expected to be restored by Friday morning.
In the Hydro-Québec territory, there were scattered outages affecting fewer than 10 people on Boulevard Saint-Rene Ouest in western Gatineau, as well as in Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais, La Vallée-de-la- Gatineau and Sainte-Agathe. -des-Monts.
In Ottawa, witnesses told the CBC they saw debris swirling in the sky after the tornado struck. Now it has landed in their streets and in their patios.
“The furniture, the plants, everything was like flying,” said Raya Jalabi, who watched the storm wreak havoc.
“Everything is… completely destroyed.”
Ottawa Police Deputy Chief Steve Bell said Thursday afternoon that the tornado downed a hydroelectric pole, knocking out power to about 1,600 homes. At 8 p.m., fewer than a dozen remained in the dark.
Paramedics said they only received one report of a person with a minor injury.
‘Not like the law’
The storm ripped roofs off homes, tore off roof tiles, smashed windows and downed trees, said Kim Ayotte, the city’s general manager of emergency services and protection.
“It’s a range of damage, from small damage to pretty substantial damage right now,” Ayotte said. “It’s certainly not like it was with [the] right [storm]. It’s not that widespread. It’s very localized.”
Cleanup efforts are underway and going well, Ayotte added. She urged people who don’t live in Barrhaven to avoid the area so crews can do their jobs.
In a statement, the city said no impacts to municipal infrastructure were reported. The public works department prioritized removal of debris that posed a risk to public safety on Thursday and is now finalizing a plan for the rest of the work.
Police officers and firefighters have been in Barrhaven since 8:00 p.m. Thursday, surveying the damage and helping people.
There may be road closures due to downed trees and power lines, the city said.
The Minto Recreation Complex at 3500 Cambrian Rd. reopened at 10 a.m. Friday as a community support center, and is open until 7 p.m.
Representatives from the city’s building code services department are there to share information about assessing damage and starting the insurance process. They will also answer general security questions.
The Canadian Red Cross and the Salvation Army are there to provide assistance, the city said.
Tornado investigators have arrived.
A study team with the Northern Tornadoes Project (ntp) arrived on Friday morning to assess the damage caused by the storm.
Aaron Jaffe, one of the researchers, said the team will estimate the strength of the tornado by looking at how much damage it caused.
“You never know for sure if there were multiple tornadoes or if there was other damage like straight-line winds, known as gusts, that also occurred,” he said.
By looking at the damaged structures, Jaffe said, the team can estimate how fast the tornado was moving.
“We want to improve tornado warnings, improve tornado structure designs, look for trends in tornado data, like climate change or things like that.”
A lot happened due to the severe storms in the Ottawa and Montreal areas yesterday. Here’s a status update:
– confirmed damaging tornado in the Barrhaven area of Ottawa, ON with an NTP crew scheduled to arrive around 10am to begin a damage survey there
– tornado confirmed in Mirabel, Quality Control… pic.twitter.com/yLjzKne0pL