'It\u2019s the stuff of nightmares': Ottawa tornado victim warns other homeowners of hidden damages

Nearly six months on and residents in the Ottawa area are still trying to patch up their homes from the devastating tornados that ripped through the region on September 21, 2018.

In the neighbourhood of Craig Henry, one homeowner is dealing with an unexpected repair.

Renata Scorsone considered her family one of the lucky ones; their cars had to be replaced, but damage to their home seemed minimal. They still had a roof over their heads or at least that’s what they thought.

The family lived in their home for nearly three months after the storm hit,

“The typical things that they’d look for that makes it a no brainer to send a structural engineer out would be cracks in the foundation, shifting walls, door getting stuck; all those types of things that can happen whenever the structure has been compromised. We didn’t have any of those massive indicators like a cracked foundation” says Scorsone.

But she says it was her husband’s gut feeling, to have insurance look deeper into their home, a costly request for a structural engineer who discovered a dangerous problem.

“Whenever the structural engineer came down from the attic he said it didn’t look good,” Scorsone said, “the structural engineering report deemed the house unsafe”.

Scorsone says the roof trusses had been compromised on her home. The plates that were holding the trusses together had been torqued enough that the tacks had been peeled back. They were worried a strong wind or a load of snow could damage the roof even more.

Scorsone says she wanted to come forward with her family’s story to help her neighbours, who may have the same damage and not even know it. She urges everyone affected by the tornado to have a structural engineer inspect their home too.

“You don’t know what you don’t know, unless you get someone who knows what to look for you really can’t be sure.”

Across the street, Scorsone’s neighbor Nancy Oram is realizing the same could be a reality for her home.

“You would never realize that there’s a problem. It could be me, it could be across the street, and it could be anybody here. So I think it’s a very good idea, it’s just something we’ll have to take up with the insurance company.”

Scorsone, her husband and two sons are now living in a nearby rental home. They will be for months. She says it’s worth it if it means her family’s home will finally be safe.

“We know it’s going to be fabulous and bulletproof by the time we get back in it. Now I just have a lot of decisions to make, silly things like colour, which I’m very fortunate that that’s my biggest concern”.