Dec. and Que. storm clearance efforts underway

A massive thunderstorm began the long weekend in May in southern Ontario and Quebec, killing at least eight people and leaving hundreds of thousands without power, and communities are now struggling to cope with the aftermath.

Cleanup efforts continued on Sunday as the crew struggled through a trail of destruction that left fallen trees, downed power lines and battered neighborhoods.

After the storm cleared in the west near Golden Horseshoe, a torrent of rain, wind and thunder hit the eastern regions of Ottawa and southern Quebec.

Eight reported dead

Police say seven deaths in Ontario were caused by falling trees as strong winds wreaked havoc, while a woman in Quebec died when a boat she was in capsized in the Ottawa River near Masson-Angers.

Three of the dead were confirmed Sunday afternoon. Durham emergency services discovered a man in Ganaraska Forest who had been hit by a fallen tree during the storm. He died on the spot.

A woman in Port Hope, Ontario, was also hit by a falling tree and died at the scene, Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) said.

Another woman died after a tree fell into a house in her North Kawartha Township, Ontario, OPP confirmed.

Other fatalities from the Ontario storm that died on Saturday include a 44-year-old man in Greater Madawaska west of Ottawa, a woman in her 70s walking in Brampton, a 59-year-old man on a golf course in Ottawa, and a person killed in their RV near Pinehurst Lake in Waterloo Region.

Trees, high voltage cables down

The city of Ottawa says there have been multiple reports of fallen trees cluttering roads and sidewalks, along with several damaged homes. Hydro Ottawa says 200 hydropiles were damaged by the storm.

Hydro Ottawa’s most current outage map showed more than 575 outages involving 177,546 customers and the Hydro Quebec website confirms that approximately 370,000 customers are still without power.

“The situation is complex with extensive damage to our infrastructure in the city to both transmission and distribution systems, and at this time we are unable to provide estimated recovery times,” Hydro Ottawa said in an update on Sunday morning.

Hydro Quebec announced on Sunday morning that more than 361 crews were sent to affected communities to restore service, but they too did not provide an estimated recovery time.

The Municipality of Uxbridge, Ont. declared a state of emergency after the storm caused significant damage to the community.

A statement on the council’s website says there are widespread power outages and many roads are closed due to fallen trees and power lines. Residents are being asked to stay at home so council workers can focus on eliminating road hazards rather than managing traffic congestion.

On Sunday, the city also banned all outdoor fires and announced that the Township’s emergency services are being deployed to assist with storm damage.

The community of Clarence-Rockland in eastern Ontario has also declared a state of emergency.

Early Sunday morning, Hydro One, which supplies power to residents of rural areas of Ontario, reported 269,000 customers were without power.

In a message to customers on Sunday, the company said that while additional resources have been brought in to help restore power, “it will take several days to restore all customers due to significant damage.”

Recovery Attempts

The city of Ottawa has set up three emergency shelters with charging stations for residents affected by the storm

“The respite centers are there to provide air conditioning, electrical outlets… and just a gathering place, because hydro estimates it could take two to three days for everyone to have power again. So we ask for the patience of the people,” Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson told CTV News Channel on Sunday.

He said cleanup efforts are underway with the city’s first priority to have roads designated as emergency routes for firefighters, police and ambulances, but it could take several days for the city to be back up and running.

However, there is some more bad weather in the forecast for some areas affected by the storm.

Environment Canada issued a warning on Sunday evening for possible thunderstorms in southern Quebec with wind gusts of about 40 kilometers per hour.

With files from CTV News Toronto, CTV News Ottawa and The Canadian Press

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