Some still rebuilding two years after tornadoes struck Ottawa

Arlington Woods cleanup after tornadoes ripped through the area in 2018.

It’s been two years since tornadoes ripped through Dunrobin, destroying Tyler Gill's home, but he remembers it like it was yesterday.

“I look outside and it was just debris like crazy.” Gill says. “People like to compare like a locomotive going over top. It was just a bunch of crazy bangs and explosions and smashes.”

Gill remembers rushing his family into the basement where it was safe, and when it was all over, coming back upstairs in disbelief. 

“I open up the door to come out of the basement, and I saw the sky,” Gill says. “First thing I remember was, what am I going to tell my wife? She’s around the corner safe with the kids, but I’m going to have to break her the news that we don’t have a roof. It’s like a giant took the roof and threw it away.”

Six twisters hit the Ottawa area in 2018: three in Eastern Ontario and three in West Quebec, including one that devastated parts of the Mont Bleu neighbourhood in Gatineau. Windspeeds reached 265 kilometres per hour. 

In Arlington Woods, trees sliced through people’s homes like butter.

“The feeling of numbness, shock, disbelief,” says Arlington Woods resident Betty Rose. “My home had a massive tree that was probably at least 150 years old hit the roof. And it went through the ceiling of our family room and created a massive hole in our family room.”

Rose has lived here for more than 40 years. Her backyard, once filled with trees, is now bare.

“I lost all my trees. I had three massive trees,” she says. “When I say massive, they’re the original Arlington Woods trees.”

Some of her neighbours’ homes are still under construction; they have been unable to move back into their houses after two years.

Most other homes in Arlington Woods and Dunrobin have been rebuilt, but Rose says the time and effort it took was sometimes overwhelming.

“It took a lot of time and a lot of phone calls and a lot of stress dealing with insurance.” She says. “Full time job, it became. Just to get your house back how you wanted it.”

Even two years later, some properties are still in the early stages of rebuilding, giving passing neighbours a small reminder of the day they will never forget.