The aftermath of a tornado that touched down in the Ottawa area, September 21, 2018. (Photo courtesy of Edith Lalonde via Twitter)

Environment Canada confirms two Ottawa tornadoes

Canada’s weather agency has confirmed two tornado touchdowns in the Capital Region.

The twisters caused significant damage in and around Ottawa and resulted in several injuries. Three of them were serious, one critical.

Environment Canada said the tornadoes were the product of severe thunderstorms that were brought along by a cold front moving across eastern Ontario. One of the storms produced a tornado that affected Kinburn, Dunrobin and Gatineau areas between 4:40 p.m. and 5:20 p.m. Friday. This tornado damaged or destroyed numerous buildings, overturned vehicles, and snapped hydro poles and trees like toothpicks. The preliminary assessment of the damage showed that this was a high-end EF-3 tornado with wind speeds of up to 265 kilometres per hour.

The second tornado was produced by another severe storm, this time affecting the Arlington Woods neighbourhood of west Ottawa. This one also significantly damaged buildings, uprooted trees and snapped hydro poles. A preliminary assessment of that damage indicated that this tornado was a high-end EF-2, with wind speeds of up to 220 kilometres per hour.

The weather agency is still conducting damage surveys to trace the exact paths of both of these storms. This report has not been deemed final.

Meanwhile, the province has activated the Disaster Recovery Assistance for Ontarians program for the tornado-affected areas. This will provide support for residents or businesses that require help with emergency expenses over and above what private insurance can provide.  The program applies to a primary residence and its basic contents, or to a small business, farm or not-for-profit organization.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said the province is ready and willing to help Ottawa-area residents get everything back in order.

“Our government is going to make sure that the people of Ottawa are supported with what they need to get back on their feet,” said Ford in a statement. “We’ll help get the hydro back on, and support families and businesses in their time of need.”

“I want to assure the residents of Ottawa that our government is working closely with our municipal partners to activate the province’s Disaster Recovery Assistance program where it will be needed,” said Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark in the same news release. “We are closely monitoring the situation and have a team in the region to assess the damage and determine the exact areas that will qualify for assistance through the program.”

To find out if a claim is eligible and for next steps, individuals and businesses should speak with their insurance provider first, then contact 1-844-780-8925. Complete information is also available on the province’s official website.