Tornadoes 'uprooted homes and tore apart the lives of people,' Ottawa-area MPs say
Published Monday, September 24, 2018 10:24AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, September 24, 2018 5:30PM EDT
OTTAWA – MPs took some time in the House of Commons on Monday to reflect on the pair of tornadoes that hit Ottawa and Gatineau on Friday, destroying 51 homes and leaving thousands without power.
Before question period, two Ottawa-area MPs rose in the House of Commons to reflect on the damage done, and convey their appreciation for the emergency response.
Liberal MP Karen McCrimmon, whose Kanata-Carleton, Ont. riding includes Dunrobin, one of the neighborhoods directly hit and severely damaged, described the community as "devastated," by "unimaginable destruction."
She said over the weekend she witnessed an "amazing" response by city officials, hydro workers, and first responders.
"To those that have been on duty for the last three days straight, I say thank you very much for your efforts, and to the residents of Dunrobin, you are an example of amazing community strength and compassion," McCrimmon said, pledging to be with them as they recover from the tragedy.
On CTV's Power Play, McCrimmon, who is also the parliamentary secretary for public safety, offered new details on what the weekend was like from her perspective.
She was at a local fair when the first Environment Canada warnings came through, and she said while her team took the alert seriously and took down their booth, "there was so little warning." She said from where she was, the sky looked clear just 20 minutes before the tornado hit.
She said the federal government will now get to look at what worked with this relatively new alert system in this instance, and what could be improved.
"It was something that we needed to learn," McCrimmon said
Conservative MP for the neighbouring Carleton, Ont. riding, Pierre Poilievre described the storm to his colleagues as one that "uprooted homes and tore apart the lives of people" across the region.
"Yet our first responders, our volunteers, our charities, and our friends and neighbours all rallied together to take care of one another in this extraordinary time of need," Poilievre said. "Even though the lights were out at many intersections, spontaneous order broke out, as people used courtesy and common sense in order to make it through all of the confusion."
Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Ralph Goodale said the government has been in continuous contact with the municipal and provincial authorities to offer any federal assistance should it be required.
At the start of the House sitting on Monday, House of Commons Speaker Geoff Regan took a moment to recognize the impact the tornadoes have had, including on parliamentary staff.
"The devastating tornadoes of last Friday have taken an enormous toll on the citizens of Ottawa-Gatineau, many have sustained damage… to their homes, some have even lost everything, and must now rebuild their lives, including some employees of the House of Commons," said Regan.
He offered thanks to those who made it possible for Parliament to go ahead.
"The employees who worked over the weekend to ensure that the parliamentary precinct could function safely and effectively, dedicated hydro workers and first responders who have accomplished miracles in restoring power and maintaining order throughout the effected region," Regan said, encouraging everyone who could to help their neighbours.
Federal government workers were asked to stay home on Monday as cleanup across the Ottawa area continues.
Public servants in the National Capital Region received the notice not to come in, or work from home if possible, on Sunday night.
Employees were told that staying home would help the City of Ottawa and Ottawa police focus on recovery efforts by minimizing the number of people commuting, and alleviating some of the demand on the electrical grid that is still not fully restored.
"Essential services will continue to be delivered. Government officials are continuing to monitor the situation to determine next steps,” the Treasury Board Secretariat said in an email to media.