A terrible thunderstorm tore through Eastern Ontario and Ottawa over the weekend, devastating the landscape and critical infrastructure. Wind gusts reached 120 kilometers per hour in some areas as trees were uprooted, phone lines were severed, and thousands were left without power as Mother Nature rained her fury down upon us.
The Township of Russell posted a news release on May 22, saying that only a few places are still without power. Hydro providers in the region have had crews working nonstop to fix the issues and following utility company updates is the best way to stay informed. Casselman clerk Sébastien Dion said in an interview that storm damage seems to be limited in Casselman and Embrun.
Schools across the region were forced to close due to power outages, and some were forced to throw out spoiled food. Rockland District High School had power restored just in time for classes to resume on May 24, but their cafeteria is currently empty. St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Francis Xavier, and Russell High were also restored in time for class, and Vankleek Hill Collegiate never lost power at all.
The City of Clarence-Rockland declared a State of Emergency late at night on Saturday May 21 as nearly 5000 buildings are without power throughout the municipality. The Clarence Creek Arena was opened as an emergency shelter for all who need it, allowing residents to charge their devices, take a shower, get drinking water, or rest. The Red Cross was on site as of May 22 to aid with any injuries sustained during the storm, but although the arena was busy throughout the weekend, nobody found it necessary to stay overnight.
An update released at 11:00am on Sunday informed residents that there is a municipal hotline set up to report issues caused by the storm. Damaged trees, downed power lines, blocked roads, and other complications should be reported by calling 613-446-6022 and pressing ‘0’ to speak to an employee. The release assured residents that the municipal water system was not compromised, asked residents to stay away from downed power lines, and requested that people only leave their houses for essential reasons.
The City has also asked residents to render aid to their neighbors if at all possible during this trying time.