Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson told reporters Saturday morning that restoring power in the Ottawa-Gatineau region will not take hours, but rather it would be a matter of days.
Hydro workers in Dunrobin, On. and the Ottawa-Gatineau region worked through the night to restore power to thousands of customers left in the dark after a tornado touched down on Friday afternoon.
After destroying dozens of homes in the Ottawa-area neighbourhood of Dunrobin and in Gatineau, Que., the twister left several people injured, including a handful in critical condition. Many others have been left homeless.
Pierre Poirer, thee deputy chief of Ottawa’s paramedic services, seconded the mayor’s assessment.
Hydro Ottawa President Bryce Conrad compared the damage to the devastating ice storm which hit Ottawa in 1998.
“Last night’s storm was devastating to our electrical infrastructure. As bad if not worse than the ice storm of ’98.”
WATCH: Trees were uprooted, power lines were downed and debris was scattered across yard after a tornado touched down in the community of Dunrobin.
The hardest hit areas of the city are Dunrobin, Craig Henry, Arlington Woods, the Hunt Club- Riverside area and the Paul Anka-McCarthy area.
According to the mayor, over 60 buildings in the Dunrobin region have been destroyed.
The Ottawa Hospital said in a tweet last night that it was treating six people with injuries related to the tornado. Four patients suffered “serious traumatic” injuries in Ottawa and were being treated on Friday night, according to Ottawa Paramedic Service.
Two others suffered minor injuries and are currently in local hospitals. The four hospitals within the impacted vicinity have no power and are currently running on generators.
Since then, the hospital has stated that two people are currently in critical condition, one has serious injuries and the rest were listed as either stable or in fair condition.
According to Hydro-Quebec’s Twitter account, approximately over 100,000 people remain without power Saturday morning due to violent winds. In a tweet, the company stated that the main regions impacted include Outaouais, Laurentians, Abitibi.
At the height of the event, more than 165,000 homes in the area were powerless, though power to several thousand has been restored after over 200 teams were dispatched to assist. The damage to the region of Gatineau is “considerable,” said the Hydro provider in a tweet (These tweets have been translated from their original French).
In the Ottawa-region of Dunrobin, the damage is even more severe. According to a tweet from Hydro One, power has been restored to more than 278,000 customers while 97,000 remain without power.
More than 80 poles are down across the service territory and tree limbs that have been knocked onto power lines by the winds are causing significant outages.
Teams are mobilized to help restore power as soon as possible. In the meantime, however, The City of Gatineau is asking residents on Twitter not to attempt to reenter their homes until authorities have given them the all-clear.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted Friday night, asking residents of the Dunrobin, Ont. area and the Ottawa-Gatineau region to stay safe and follow the instructions of first responders. Other politicians added their sympathies and well-wishes Saturday morning.
Ontario senator Victor Oh tweeted early Saturday morning that he was “sending my thoughts and prayers to everyone affected,” and thanked first responders working to restore power.
The mayor of Ottawa also tweeted Saturday morning that he would be suspending his campaign activities for a few days until the city has recovered from the storm.
Premier Doug Ford of Ontario also issued a statement Saturday afternoon, committing “whatever resources are required” to support Ottawa as it recovers. He added that the Provincial Energy Operations Centre has been working with municipal emergency management to provide supports as well.
The extent of the damage to city infrastructure and pedestrian areas is severe. Videos and photos posted to social media depict a harrowing scene. The twister tore roofs off homes and overturned cars on Highway 50 – and the cleanup was just beginning on Saturday morning.
WATCH: People picking up the pieces after tornado rips through Ottawa neighbourhood
For those whose homes were destroyed or damaged in the storm, several emergency centres have been opened to house residents. West Carleton school is serving the region of Dunrobin and Canterbury Recreational Centre open for Hunt Club-Riverside. Centres are open for
Gatineau Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin says 215 buildings were damaged or destroyed, and a total of 1,686 homes were affected.
Environment Canada said preliminary analysis of the damages marked it as an EF02 tornado, with winds reaching at least 180 km/h.
A more complete assessment of casualties and damage is expected later today.
Here’s an idea of the damage:
–With files from the Canadian Press.