By Connor Lynch
OTTAWA — Six tornadoes touched down in and around Ottawa last month, carving paths of destruction through both urban and rural areas. Three tornadoes narrowly missed the city, as they blasted through Quebec, north of the Ottawa River.
The most powerful storm hit Dunrobin, a small community west of Ottawa, on Friday, Sept. 21 shortly after 5 p.m. The EF3 tornado, a middleweight storm with wind speeds up to 265 km/h, touched down practically in the centre of town, area farmer Clint Ross told Farmers Forum. He was driving home at the time and watched the funnel cloud come down. At home, his wife told him they had golf-ball sized hail for nearly 15 minutes. Surprisingly, there was virtually no crop damage and he was harvesting a few days later.
Not all farmers were so fortunate. Dunrobin beef farmer Leo Muldoon was repairing a barn when the storm hit, his nephew told the Chronicle Journal. The storm tore down the barn around him. When his wife Adele found him, he had collapsed lungs, broken ribs and internal bleeding.
A neighbour called 911 and the 78-year-old Muldoon was rushed to hospital. As of Sept. 25, he was in intensive care, under sedation and unable to talk, communicating by squeezing people’s hands, the Ottawa Sun reported.
Response time by emergency services was fantastic, arriving in Dunrobin in under 10 minutes, Ross said.
Just west, at Kinburn, another farm family got hit. West Carleton sheep farmer Jason Nicholson was thankfully just south at the Carp fair when the storm blasted his house. According to West Carleton Online, the storm destroyed the family house and sheep barn. The storm then crossed the Ottawa River and into Gatineau, Que.
Of the five weaker tornadoes, one an hour west of Ottawa at Calabogie, snapped trees in half.
As many as 180,000 Ottawa area residents were without power over night. There were 4,000 people still without electricity three days later. Hydro Ottawa had to pull off the mammoth task of redirecting power around the 90 downed hydro lines and the folded-over transmission towers.
The storm damaged 53 Dunrobin homes, of which half will need to be rebuilt. Hundreds of other homes across Ottawa were damaged.