Ottawa tornado demonstrates 'amazing' force of nature
Published Monday, June 3, 2019 9:34AM EDT
Witnesses to a tornado that tore through the east end of Ottawa Sunday are marvelling at the power Mother Nature can bring.
Residents and emergency crews continue their cleanup Monday, after Environment Canada confirmed a tornado touched down in the suburb of Orleans shortly after 6 p.m. The twister uprooted trees, tore roofs apart, damaged cars and briefly closed streets.
There were no reports of injuries.
“It’s the first time in my whole life seeing one of those,” Benoit Lacroix said of the funnel cloud he was watching from a ferry. Then he saw video a neighbour posted of shingles and boards flying off the roof at his condo complex.
“I freaking out. I was like, “Let’s go home. Let’s go home, right now.’”
Environment Canada issued tornado warnings for eastern Ontario and western Quebec just after 6 p.m. Sunday.
The warning, which was lifted about two hours after it was issued, came amid a small but powerful storm that brought damaging winds, hail and intense rainfall. Environment Canada said late Sunday that preliminary information indicates the tornado was a Category EF-1, meaning winds of at least 135 km/h and may have been on the ground for more than 30 minutes.
Debris closed several streets, including a major highway, but the city said they had all reopened by about 9 p.m.
“The force of nature is, like, amazing. It’s, like, heartbreaking,” said Luc Poupart of Orleans, Ont. who recorded the tornado’s destruction until he had to seek refuge, yelling “Get in, get in,” on the video.
“At some point in time, when I saw the debris out in the sky, and the styrofoam and the two-by-fours, I said, ‘OK, let’s go inside,” he told CTV News Ottawa.
“The wind was just like swirling and swirling,” said Suzanne Dawson, who was surrounded by fallen trees as she recounted her experience.
“It was crazy and then it started to pick up and I actually didn’t realize it had ripped a tree down and I saw it pulled the fence down right beside where I was sitting.”
Video captured from a golf course east of Ottawa shows funnel clouds picking up water and trees over the Ottawa River.
Joshua Bastian was driving his pickup truck when debris, including a mattress and garbage can, started hitting or flying past the vehicle.
“Looking in the rear view mirror, there was a crazy funnel cloud coming.”
One man says shingles from a neighbour’s roof crashed through his kitchen window and narrowly missed his wife as she was heading to the basement. She was not hurt.
Dalmy Sanchez and her son took cover as the tornado approached. Part of their home’s roof was torn off.
“I just told him to run to the basement , you know, but we didn’t realize this is what’s going on,” said Sanchez. “We had the warning right after though. But it was too late.”
This is the latest in a series of severe weather events to hit the area. Ottawa and Gatineau were hit by serious tornadoes in September and several communities east of Ottawa have also been in a state of emergency due to spring flooding.
Firefighters and city crews have been cutting up fallen trees and checking homes to make sure they were safe for residents to return. Neighbours are pitching in to help those affected.
“We’re all just trying to have each other’s backs and make sure everyone is looked after and safe,” said one man.
“That’s what you should do,” said another. “If you live around, it’s your community, help them out.”
-with files from CTV News Ottawa and CTV News Montreal