Thousands of people are still without electricity this morning, in an area stretching from Harrow, Ont., in Essex County, to Highgate, Ont., on the east side of Chatham-Kent.
For the second straight week, a vicious thunderstorm has caused widespread damage across areas of southwestern Ontario.
The focus of the weather’s fury this time was primarily on southern Essex County.
Nicole Primeau said no one was hurt in Wednesday night’s storm that ripped through Kingsville, but there were some scary moments, according to the administrator at Augustine Villas, a retirement home in the southern Essex County town.
“We have four residents that have been displaced from their rooms due to the tree coming through the roof,” said Primeau.
And some residents were taken to a hotel in nearby Leamington because they’re on oxygen machines and there wasn’t any power.
“We won’t be able to recharge their machines.”
Primeau said there’s been a lot of support from the community — including the town’s mayor, Dennis Rogers coming out to ensure the fire department assessed the building’s structural situation.
“They gave us the go ahead to remove the branch from inside the building. We had a lot of people come out and help with that job and do a quick fix until we can get the real work started.”
Despite not having power, other residents were going to remain in the building overnight Wednesday without a fire alarm system, according to Primeau, with staff monitoring the complex and residents.
“We have to do 30-minute walks to make sure the building is secure and just make sure that all the residents are comfortable not overheating, getting enough water and having whatever care that they need to be safe.”
‘It’s quite a disaster’
A huge mature tree on the boulevard of Anthony Thachuk’s property was uprooted by the storm.
The Kingsville homeowner says it’s fortunate he and his wife weren’t home and their vehicles weren’t in the driveway at the time it came crashing down.
“Quite a shock to come home to,” said Thachuk.
“The tree fell perfectly to just miss our house and barely nick our neighbour’s.”
Thachuk said his street was “basically in ruins” Wednesday night and that “it’s quite a disaster.”
Melissa Deblock is a neighbour of Thachuk’s and wonders if it was a tornado that touched down in the town.
She said her family was in the house when the alerts started going off on their phones, so she took her kids to the basement.
“It was just unbelievable.”
“I was at my back door and we heard this big noise. It was like a whiplash. And my laundry line went down and then the trees came down … and it was done before it was over.”
Deblock estimates the worst part of the storm lasted a couple of minutes.
When her neighbour’s large tree was pulled from the ground she said it was really loud, sounding like a freight train.
“And that’s all you could hear was a big roar. And then when we looked out, everything was down. It was like, ‘wow, what the heck happened?'”
Similar damage stories coming from Harrow
The mayor of Essex, which covers the town of Harrow, told Breaking: residents were describing to her what could have been two tornadoes touching down in the area.
Sherry Bondy said she was out with town crews and OPP assessing the storm’s damage Wednesday night — calling it widespread across the southern half of the municipality.
“There was a lot of wind, and a lot of people said it sounded like a wind storm,” Bondy said.
“Myself, all of my garbage and recycling was torn apart all over my lawn. My neighbour’s fence is down.”
The Northern Tornadoes Project will send teams from Western University to examine damage today around Kingsville, Harrow, and Blenheim.
Tornadoes were confirmed in Chatham-Kent and Lambton County during last week’s storm that blew across southwestern Ontario.
The Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) issued a flood watch for the area on Wednesday because of the storm. It’s set to expire late Thursday morning.