'Looked like we drove into a warzone': Cleanup continues following strong storm that knocked out power
Residents on Maple Street in Cambridge were busy cleaning up large pieces of broken trees and avoiding dangling power lines on Sunday, after the severe storm that rocked Southwestern Ontario the day before.
Trees were torn down by the strong winds along Maple Street, damaging power lines and knocking out power for several homes. Internet service had also been interrupted by the storm.
“It looked like we drove into a warzone," Cambridge resident Marjolein Wijbenga-Groot told CTV News. "You can see branches down and here it was just all the old [maple trees] were broken."
Wijbenga-Groot had power restored at her home within five hours of it going out, but neighbours were still in the dark on Sunday.
“We've been bringing coffee over this morning, as neighbours are already cleaning up. More generators have been going,” Wijbenga-Groot said.
Grandbridge Energy said two poles with multiple circuits broke near Franklin Boulevard and Saginaw Parkway in Cambridge.
“Multiple circuits were affected, which caused an extensive outage across Cambridge,” Dmitry Lisovskiy, with Grandbridge Energy said. “In this particular scenario, lines that have multiple circuits are prone to more kind of wind force exposure and could break in the severe winds.”
Grandbridge Energy said about 40,000 of their 109,000 customers lost power from the storm.
As of 2:30 p.m. Sunday, only 200 customers were still in the dark. Lisovskiy said crews are working through the night to try and restore power for all customers.
A similar situation happened in Kitchener, as homeowners were also cleaning up their yards on Sunday, dealing with fallen debris from broken trees.
Kitchener resident Scott McNichol said he started hours of cleaning up his property, after neighbours confirmed everyone was okay in the area,
“I'm looking at it going, ‘Okay, well, all right. I'll be a wood cutter this weekend,’” McNichol said. “This is just one of many properties here that have about the same damage.”
According to Kitchener-Wilmot Hydro, about a fifth of their customer base lost power in the storm. Initially over 21,000 of their more than 100,000 customers lost power.
“This event was one of the larger ones we've seen. A lot of trees down, branches across the lines, a number of poles broken as a result of this,” Wilf Meston, Vice President of Operations at Kitchener-Wilmot Hydro said.
KW Hydro said they are facing staffing challenges due to the long weekend, but by 1 a.m. Sunday, only 2,100 customers remained without power.
According to Meston, several lines are down in New Dundee. He expects power will remain off for some customers into the evening and possibly Monday morning.
“We got a lot of single customer outages that we haven't really even tackled yet. Where branches have come down or trees have come down and pulled a customer's service wire down with it,” Meston said.
Meston said many of the single customers without power will need to call an electrician to repair the service stack on their home before KW Hydro can switch power back on, which could take until later in the week to resolve.
The City of Waterloo said the Southeast portion of the city and both cemeteries were hit hard by the winds, as crews received over 70 calls for service and dealt with at least 15 uprooted trees.
Officials said they are focusing on clearing major roads and cleanup may take a while.
“We’re probably looking at about two to three weeks by the time we clean up the city streets and our trail systems,” Tim Wolfe, manager of Parks Operations, Forestry & Horticulture for the City of Waterloo said. “Priority went towards obviously to the road clearance first. We had some vehicles that were hit, covered with tree branches,” Wolfe said.
The Region of Waterloo said there will be a significant cleanup effort starting on Tuesday. The City of Kitchener anticipates its clean-up will begin the week of May 30.