Premier Ford says restoring hydro is the 'number one issue' following the storm

Premier Doug Ford says the top priority is to restore power across the region after Saturday's severe storm damaged hydro infrastructure and properties.

More than 200,000 homes and businesses remain without power in Ottawa and eastern Ontario two days after the storm. Hydro One says more than 800 hydro poles have been damaged by the storm, while Hydro Ottawa says 200 poles were damaged in the capital.

"We're on standby, we're ready to move in there with any resources that (the Ottawa mayor) may need," Ford said during an interview with Newstalk 580 CFRA's The Morning Rush with Bill Carroll on Monday.

"The number one issue right now is getting the hydro up and going to residents and make sure the hydro is up and going to businesses."

Ford has spoken with Mayor Jim Watson and officials with Hydro Ottawa and Hydro One to discuss the situation in the Ottawa area and whether any resources from the province are needed.

Hydro crews from the Toronto area and Kingston are being deployed to Ottawa to assist crews with repairing the damage.

"As soon as we can free up some crews, we'll move them into the heaviest hit areas," Ford said. "We're giving it everything we have, we have all the resources out there working as hard as possible."

Liberal leader Steven Del Duca got a first-hand look at the storm damage in eastern Ontario. Liberal candidate for Glengarry–Prescott–Russell Amanda Simard joined Del Duca for a tour of Sarsfield, Hammond and Clarence-Rockland, including a stop at Paroisse Saint-Hugues in Sarsfield, where the church’s steeple was toppled by the storm Saturday.

"I suspended my campaign schedule for today in order to get out here and meet the responders and bring attention to what’s happening," Del Duca said. "Leaders have a duty to show up in difficult times. It says a lot about Doug Ford that he’d rather be campaigning in his Toronto riding today, rather than bringing attention and government resources here to get communities back on their feet."

Ford is campaigning in Etobicoke North. Del Duca criticized Ford's decision not to come to eastern Ontario.

"It’s the same weak and irresponsible behaviour we saw from him when Ottawa was under the siege of the occupation, when he went snowmobiling at his cottage rather than show up for Ontario’s second largest city. All he’s ever good for are some phony words read from a teleprompter," the Liberal leader said.

Clarence-Rockland declared a state of emergency Saturday night. The city has set up an emergency shelter at the Clarence Creek Arena. A hotline for residents to report issues caused by the storm will be back online, starting at 9 a.m. You can call 613-446-6022 and immediately dialing “0” to speak to an employee.

The storm on Saturday ravaged much of southern and eastern Ontario and killed at least eight people. Trees and hydro poles were felled and hundreds of thousands of people lost power.

"Ontario Liberals will be there to help with a plan to protect our communities from the impacts of the climate emergency and its extreme weather events, which are growing more and more frequent as a consequence of our changing climate,” Del Duca said.

Watson said on Twitter he had also spoken with Del Duca and NDP leader Andrea Horwath following the storm.

"Thanks @JimWatsonOttawa for sharing what folks in your community need as they face flooding, loss of power and other critical issues following #Onstorm," Horwath said on Twitter.

Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh campaigned in Horwath's bus in Kingston, Ajax and Scarborough Monday. Horwath is isolating after testing positive for COVID-19 last week.

Green Party leader Mike Schreiner called for immediate emergency support for damaged communities in the aftermath of Saturday’s storm.

“The impacts of Saturday’s storm are severe and far reaching, especially for eastern Ontario,” Schreiner said. “We need to get support to these hard-hit communities immediately. That is why Ontario Greens are calling to make sure immediate emergency support for storm-damaged communities is available as needed.”

Ontario Greens are promising to create a $2-billion per year Climate Adaptation Fund to support municipalities with green and resilient infrastructure to better withstand the impacts of climate change.