Dunrobin homeowners struggling to rebuild 1 month after tornado
Five-year-old Emersyn Rousseau carefully navigates an old clothes dryer and some insulation-covered toys.
“They’re OK! Lookit! Can we bring them home?” the girl asks her mom, proudly holding an unopened pack of multicoloured plastic eggs.
Emersyn’s mother, Jess Rousseau, nods, and they continue to explore the rubble of what was once their two-storey home in Dunrobin, Ont.
Ben Rousseau, Emersyn’s father, visits what’s left of the home on a near-daily basis. It has been an emotionally draining month for the entire family.
“It is very difficult, every day being away from the house and not doing their normal day-in and day-out stuff gets to us, but yeah, it’s tough to look at,” Ben told Global News as he stood on the foundation of his garage.
Exactly one month ago, six tornadoes touched down in eastern Ontario and western Quebec, causing millions of dollars in damage. The one that hit Dunrobin was an EF-3 with winds gusting up to 265 kilometres per hour.
Volunteers and aid organizations flocked to the area in the days following the disaster to help move downed trees and get the town back on its feet. However, things have slowed considerably. Wire fences surround that homes that City of Ottawa engineers have declared condemned, but no work is being done, and some believe insurance companies are dragging their feet in not sending their own crews to confirm the city’s assessment.
“As you know, the longer (insurance companies) wait, the more work the city and the volunteers are doing on their behalf,” said Coun. Eli El-Chantiry of Ottawa.
Without the insurance company’s consent, work on the damaged homes cannot start.
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El-Chantiry says the city has called the Insurance Board of Canada twice in the hopes of speeding up the process for residents. The next step being considered is a name-and-shame campaign.
“We said we give them a couple of weeks, and if they don’t come forward, we will publish their name through the media,” El-Chantiry told Global News.
Many residents of Dunrobin had home insurance when the tornado struck, but they’ve seen very little in the form of financial aid. Ben used the only cheque from his insurance company to cover the first and last month’s rent for their new home in nearby Kanata. Everything else has been given to them by friends and family or paid out of his own pocket.
“We just found out that we have a limit to what was in our garage. We have a limit on what we can make on certain claims,” said Ben.
There is one item recovered from their home that Ben can’t wait to get his hands on: it’s the “for sale” sign that stood outside their home before the tornado ripped through the neighbourhood.
The sign was found on a farm 86 kilometres away in Saint-André-Avellin, Que.
“Whether it was (blown by) the wind or whatever it was, it’s a good reminder of how powerful it was,” said Ben.
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