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Tens of thousands without power following tornado in Ottawa region

Last Updated Sep 22, 2018 at 6:41 pm PDT

OTTAWA – Officials are warning people in the Ottawa area to brace for days without power in the wake of a tornado that ripped through the area yesterday afternoon.

They’re encouraging people to stockpile food and water following the storm, which tore roofs off of homes, overturned cars and felled power lines in Ottawa, nearby Dunrobin, Ont., and in Gatineau, Que.

Tens of thousands of people were left without power and with damaged infrastructure, with Hydro Ottawa CEO Bryce Conrad saying the damage is as bad or worse than that caused by a devastating ice storm in 1998. Conrad says there are outages across Ottawa as a result of “cascading failure” of hydro resources.

The storm’s bite continued to be felt across a wide swath of the region many hours later, with more than 150,000 customers still without power Saturday afternoon.

The human toll was also significant. Authorities said dozens of people suffered injuries, however there were no reports of fatalities or of missing people. The Ottawa Hospital tweeted that two people were in critical condition, one was in serious condition and two others were stable — down from six last night.

The hospital says two people are in critical condition, one is in serious condition and two others are stable.

It says one of those five arrived this morning.

Watch: Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson updates on the situation in the area


Meanwhile, officials said firefighters are going door-to-door to determine whether structures are safe to re-enter.

Officials warned people not to re-enter their homes until they had been deemed safe.

The tornado inflicted heavy damage late Friday as it churned across pockets of Ottawa’s west and south ends, as well as densely populated sections of the neighbouring Quebec city of Gatineau.

Officials established shelters for those who couldn’t return home and they said crisis counselling would be available.

On the north side of the Ottawa River, Gatineau Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin said more than 700 of his citizens were impacted by the storm and about 100 people took refuge in a shelter Friday night at a local college. More than 215 buildings suffered damage or were destroyed in his city, affecting a total of 1,686 housing units, he added.