By Charlie Senack
Residents who live off Antler Avenue in Old Barrhaven are praising city officials for how quick they were to respond after Thursday’s tornado.
The street and surrounding areas received extensive damage when the storm rolled through at around 1:00 p.m. on July 13.
Alison Kinahan, who lives nearby, said she was doing electrical work with her Dad when the tornado alert was first issued. She looked out her kitchen window to see clouds swirling in the sky.
“The rain started heavy, and the winds were howling,” she said. “We heard this loud riad — it was a loud, loud noise. I got my mom and daughter who were making pies in the kitchen and we went off to the basement.”
When Kinahan went back upstairs, her street was unrecognizable. Roofs were blown off of nearby homes, trees were split into two, and large sections of fencing were down.
“It was wild. You didn’t want to turn around and look at your own house because you saw what was across the street,” she said, noting that besides a few branches and other pieces of debris in the backyard, her house was untouched. “Seeing people come out of their houses was a relief, knowing they were ok.”
Nearby, Barrhaven West city councillor David Hill said a 13-year-old girl was in her bedroom when a hole formed in the home’s roof and blew off. The young teen is safe after quickly running down the stairs, he noted, leaving with a good story to tell.
Sandy Redford, who has lived on Antler Ave since 1986, said she was coming out of the shower when signs of a storm started to show.
“You didn’t hear the roaring train noise people say they usually hear. I started running downstairs and before I got there it was already over. It was very quick,” she said. “When I came back up my deck box that used to be at the front of my deck was by my house and I looked out front and went ‘oh my lord my tree is down.’
That tree was planted by Redford’s husband. He passed away about five years ago.
“It was very emotional,” she said. “But we are very lucky compared to some of our neighbours.”
Some shingles also blew off of Redford’s house. They were repaired by a roofing company a couple hours later. She and her neighbours are now applauding the city who was quick to respond in the storm’s aftermath.
Hydro outages, which impacted around 16,00 customers, were restored in less than five hours. The fallen trees were also chopped up and hauled away by Thursday evening.
“The City of Ottawa came right away and went up and down the street checking all the hydro. They must have arrived about 15 minutes after the storm finished,” said Dawn Marie Bourgeois, who has lived on Antler Ave since 1995. “The trees were cut down very quickly and construction crews were here almost immediately to cover the damage. We are just so very grateful for their help. In all my years living here we have never gone through anything like this before.”
After helping their neighbours clean up, the streets residents ended the night with a block party in one person’s backyard, sipping wine and sharing stories of where they were when the storm first hit.
Councillor Hill said building code services will be expediting building permits for those who need to quickly fix damages to their homes. Nepean MP Chandra Arya said the Insurance Bureau of Canada reached out and assured their members they are there to support those affected by the Barrhaven tornado.
Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe also stopped by the community Thursday evening to visit with impacted residents.
“I want to say a huge thank you to all the city employees, emergency workers, and volunteers who responded so quickly and effectively to the crisis in Barrhaven,” he wrote on Twitter. “I spoke to dozens and dozens of residents who were effusive in their praise and extremely grateful for the quick response. We are lucky to have such dedicated employees and generous volunteers in our city.”