Tornado among top 'traumatic events' in Ottawa's history, will take days to restore power, mayor says
About 150,000 people in Ottawa alone remain without power after a twister ripped through the area Friday — and the mayor warns it could take "days" to restore service to those affected by the storm.
Speaking to reporters Saturday, Jim Watson said the tornado has plunged large swaths of the city into darkness after the Hydro One-owned Merivale substation was badly damaged by high winds, disconnecting parts of the city from the provincial grid. Several people were also injured in the storm, including a couple still in critical condition in hospital.
Watson said the Merivale substation cannot be fixed easily, meaning there will be prolonged outages until crews can first clear out substantial debris and then make the necessary repairs.
"It's in the top two or three traumatic events that have affected our city [in history]," Watson said.
"It looks like some bomb was dropped from the air ... it looks like something you'd see in a movie or in tornado alley in Oklahoma," Watson said of Dunrobin, a small community on the western reaches of the city, where residents were hardest hit. "It looks like a war scene."
Bryce Conrad, president of the Hydro Ottawa, said the storm was "devastating" to the electrical infrastructure, and damage to the grid is even worse than what it sustained from the 1998 ice storm.
"In terms of the magnitude of the damage to our infrastructure — it's bad," Conrad said.
With the Merivale substation out of service, roughly half of the necessary megawatts the city needs to keep the lights on is out of commission. Neighbourhoods in Ottawa's west and south — including Kanata, Nepean, Barrhaven, Stittsville, but also parts of the Glebe, Westboro and Centretown — are experiencing outages.
Also affected were Hydro-Québec customers, with thousands in the dark.
Conrad said he did not yet have accurate estimates for when power would be restored, but it would likely occur at different times for different neighbours depending on the level of damage to local infrastructure.
In addition to the Merivale substation, roughly 80 to 90 hydro poles were downed by the storm.
Watson said that, despite the blackout, there are no reports of widespread criminal activity or looting.
More to come.