8 people dead after storm rips through Ontario; tens of thousands without power

The death count related to a destructive storm that ripped through much of southern Ontario continues to rise.

Police have confirmed at least eight deaths and multiple injuries after Saturday's severe thunderstorm. Tens of thousands of people are also without power after gusting winds knocked down trees and hydro wires.

The latest deaths were confirmed Sunday afternoon by various police forces.

In Durham Region, emergency crews were called to Ganaraska Forest around 3 p.m. on May 21 for an unrelated matter. While there, they learned that a man had been struck by a fallen tree during the storm.

Officers found a 30-year-old man suffering from significant trauma. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), meanwhile, said a 77-year-old woman in Port Hope was fatally struck by a falling tree "as a powerful weather system moved through the area."

Provincial police also told the Canadian Press that a 64-year-old woman died after a tree fell at a home in North Kawartha Township.

The remaining five deaths were confirmed on Saturday afternoon and evening.

In Brampton, Ont., a woman in her 70s who was walking alone in the area of Belmont Drive and Birchbank Road was struck by a falling tree. Police say she was rushed to the hospital, but later died.

Hours later OPP said that a tree fell on a camping trailer at Pinehurst Lake Conservation Area near Kitchener. One person died and two others were injured.

Two other deaths were confirmed in Ottawa. A 44-year-old man in Greater Madawaska and a 59-year-old man in the city’s west end were both pronounced dead after being struck by falling trees.

A fifth death was also confirmed in Quebec by Gatineau police. Investigators say a 51-year-old woman was killed when her boat was capsized in the Ottawa River near Masson-Angers.

The storm struck shortly after Environment Canada issued a weather warning and pushed an emergency alert to the phones of Ontario residents.

The storm struck shortly after Environment Canada issued a weather warning and pushed an emergency alert to the phones of Ontario residents.

By 1 p.m., winds near Kitchener were busting close to 132 kilometres an hour while at Toronto’s Pearson Airport, winds were blowing at about 120 kilometers an hour.

The wind and rain caused multiple trees and live hydro wires to fall down. By Saturday evening, Hydro One said more than 350,000 people are without power following the storm.

In Uxbridge, officials declared a local state of emergency as a result of the storm damage and widespread power outages, which forced multiple roads to close.

IT COULD TAKE DAYS FOR POWER TO RETURN

Hydro One says it could take several days to restore power due to the sheer number of customers impacted and the amount of damage the storm caused.

As of Sunday afternoon, more than 259,200 customers in Ontario were still without electricity

“Additional resources have been called in to assist with power restoration, however we anticipate it will take several days to restore all customers due to the significant damage,” a storm warning on their website says.

Toronto Hydro says their crews have restored power to about 96,000 customers and have about 15,000 to go.

“Rest assured, crews will continue to work around the clock to restore power. Thank you for your ongoing patience.”

Alectra, an electricity provider serving the Golden Horseshoe region, say there are still 24,000 customers experiencing outages. Those outages are primarily in York and Peel.

"The storm came in fast and furious as you know, with hurricane force wind to 120 kilometers an hour, which really does a lot of damage," John Friesen, a spokesperson for Alectra, told CP24 Sunday afternoon.

"What we are seeing on the ground is a great deal of destruction as a result of that. We're doing our best to identify the high-risk areas, specifically make the area safe for public safety, and then work on the restoration."

Crews continue to work on the remaining 24,000 customer outages - heavily concentrated in York and Peel regions. We're working throughout Vaughan, Markham, Richmond Hill, Aurora, Brampton, Mississauga, Hamilton, and Guelph to restore power. #ONstorm pic.twitter.com/LgymLg1NqT

— Alectra (@alectranews) May 22, 2022

Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown said the biggest cleanup challenge is the "sheer volume" of destruction.

"We had major damage throughout the city in terms of trees and power lines down, so even though we have all our staff working throughout the night, it still takes time."

Ontario residents have been posting photos of the damage to social media, showing trees blocking roadways, on top of cars and in at least one instance—a playground.

At Mill Pond Park in Richmond Hill,near Major Mackenzie Drive and Yonge Street photos show the playground completely buried under large tree branches and foliage.

One resident said that he was surprised to come out to the park and see the destruction.

“It’s a bit awe inspiring and a little bit humbling when you think about it,” he said. “I’m very thankful no one got injured around here.”

Another Richmond Hill resident posted video to social media showing a hydro pole on fire. The video is less than five seconds long and shows trees blowing in heavy winds and rain pummeling the ground while the pole is ablaze.

Near the end of the video, it appears as though there is a small explosion or blast.

Just a casual windstorm outside ��@CP24 pic.twitter.com/n1iHveJlmW

— Behrooz Rahnama (@RahnamaBehrooz) May 22, 2022

Residents say they are concerned about the length of time it will take to repair the power outages –noting that if it takes days a lot of their food will go bad.

“It’s very frustrating,” one person said. “We have a deep freezer and now we have to throw everything away.”

One woman said her neighbour was told crews would get to their area on Tuesday.

“That’s like four or five days,” she said. “How do you survive?”

It is unclear how much property damage took place during the storm.

With files from the Canadian Press