By Charlie Senack, Barrhaven Independent
Parts of Barrhaven are starting to receive power again after a storm caused widespread damage across the community.
Just before 4:00 pm on May 21, the sky darkened over Barrhaven and the clouds opened. Heavy rainfall and wind gusts of up to 120 kilometres an hour caused extensive damage on many of the communities suburban streets.
Well over hundred trees in Barrhaven have either toppled over or split in half, many are now blocking roadways. Wind gusts were so strong, some trees were completely uprooted from the ground.
Both Woodroffe and Greenbank Roads remain closed from Fallowfield to Huntclub due to downed power lines. Hydro Ottawa crews have been out to repair the damage, but it’s so extensive, the city says it will take days. The transitway which runs linear to Woodroffe has reopened.
At least 225 hydro poles across Ottawa have fallen over, leaving about 180,000 customers without power.
Two cars on Merivale road between Fallowfield and Amberwood slid into the ditch, one with a hydro pole sliced through the middle of it. Further up Merivale, fallen trees line the street and hydro wires lie across it.
St. Monica school received extensive damage during the storm. A part of its roof blew off, debris littered the property, and a giant tree fell across the front entrance. Cleanup crews have been at the one-storey building all day to clean up the mess. The Ottawa Catholic School Board says students who attend that school will switch to remote learning on Tuesday while damage is assessed.
A little further up Merivale, large pieces of roofing blocked Capitol Drive near Slack. Windows of the industrial buildings were blown out and large pieces of styrofoam are scattered across the road.
But it was Merivale near Viewmount which saw some of the most extensive damage. About a dozen hydro pools toppled over across from Merivale Mall, some landing on top of cars. The downed lines also took out the traffic lights in the area, which is still without power.
Merivale is closed from Viewmount to Basil MacDonald Way, with cars being detoured through the Viewmount Centre parking lot, and behind Merivale High School.
Power Not Fully Restored For Days
Officials expect it will take three to four days to fully restore power across the city, and even longer to clean up the damage.
“(There is) about 560 unique outages across the service territory,” said Hydro Ottawa’s Joseph Muglia. “The damage assessment is still underway. We’ve done a good chunk of it now, but still quite a bit of it to go, as far as full damage assessment of all the areas involved.”
Roads where poles are down could take days to reopen. Because it’s not just a matter of repairing the lines, full replacement of certain poles will need to happen, an extensive job for hydro crews who are already working around the clock.
“The poles need to be replaced. They can’t be fixed,” said Muglia. “There are times when we can repair a pole in a temporary situation, but based on what we’ve seen, especially when you’ve got a pole line where a number of poles have gone down, those require replacement.”
At least three lives were lost in the Ottawa area from the storm, seven across the province.
Ottawa Police is asking for people to avoid any unnecessary travel, saying clogged roadways will make it more difficult for Hydro crews to repair the damage, and harder for first responders to respond to calls.
But with people needing gas and supplies, long lines have been reported at gas stations and at restaurants across Ottawa. Some people waited over 45 minutes to fill up their tanks at the gas station at Strandherd and Longfields, and waited over an hour to order food at McDonalds, Wendy’s and Tim Hortons, in Marketplace.
Respite Centre’s Open
For anyone still without power, the City of Ottawa will have Emergency Reception Centres as various locations across the city. They include:
- CARDELREC Recreation Complex Goulbourn, at 1500 Shea Road.
- François Dupuis Recreation Centre, at 2263 Portobello Boulevard
- Howard Darwin Centennial Arena, at 1765 Merivale Road
- Hunt Club-Riverside Park Community Centre, at 3320 Paul Anka Drive
- Plant Recreation Centre, at 930 Somerset Street West
- Richmond Arena, at 6095 Perth Street
- J.A. Dulude Arena, at 941 Clyde Avenue
- Bernard-Grandmaître Arena, at 309 McArthur Road
These sites are open for power for charging devices, showers and washrooms. The Carleton Heights Community Centre located at 1665 Apeldoorn Ave will also be open, but does not have shower facilities.
(Charlie Senack Photo)