Hydro crews and residents spent Saturday cleaning up after fierce storms pounded Waterloo Region Friday night, toppling trees, causing widespread power outages and leaving lawns and streets covered in debris.

Environment Canada reported Friday night's storm brought with it hurricane-force winds that hit speeds of up to 119 kilometres per hour. Signs of damage were everywhere, with uprooted trees and splintered branches that had fallen onto hydro wires, cars and even homes.

In Kitchener's Central Frederick neighbourhood, the wind cracked an ancient-looking maple in two, sending a large branch crashing onto the roof of a nearby home, shearing off the chimney and covering the lawn in splintered branches and broken bricks.


A severed tree limb dangles precariously from a hydro wire after Friday night's storm on Wellington Street in Kitchener. Hydro crews worked feverishly across Waterloo Region on Saturday to restore power to the hardest hit areas. (Colin Butler/CBC News)

Neighbourhoods along Lancaster Street West in Kitchener appeared to be some of the hardest hit by the storm, with fierce winds downing hydro wires and snapping the trunks of large trees like toothpicks.

"I was brutal," said Jim Hanley, who took cover for most of the storm inside his Louisa Street home.

"When I come out, trees were down and everything," he said Saturday, pointing to a maple snapped in two by last night's fierce winds across the street, "that big tree there? There's a brand-new car underneath it."

Man and wife escape injury

Ken Wilson was on his way home from a shopping trip with his wife when the storm bore down on the region.

"There was blue boxes and garbage pails and debris just flying everywhere," he said Saturday. "You could hardly see anything."

Wilson said he and his wife were approaching their driveway Friday evening when they narrowly escaped injury, or worse.

"We come up the driveway and the back wheels are on the sidewalk and we hear a whoosh and a big spark and the wire from the house ripped off the tree and just missed us," he said.


Broken tree limbs toppled a gravestone in St. Peter's Lutheran Cemetery south of downtown Kitchener on Saturday. Friday night's storm delivered hurricane-strength winds that clocked in at 119 kilometres per hour. (Colin Butler/CBC News)

At the height of the blackout, thousands of customers across Waterloo Region were affected by the loss of power caused by the storm, but hydro crews with the region's three public utility companies had managed to whittle down the affected areas to only a few hundred customers by Saturday afternoon.

Hydro crews working 24 hours

"We'll be working all day and into the night again, I'm sure, "Jerry Van Ootegham, the President of Kitchener Wilmot Hydro said Saturday. "There's dozens of services that are still down and still need to be repaired."

In Cambridge, hydro crews worked all night to restore power to customers scattered across Cambridge and North Dumfries and estimated they would have returned electricity to all households by suppertime.

"The biggest outage was approximately 1700 customers in Ayr and that was a feeder lockout, so that was a supply issue," Barbara Shortreed, of Cambridge North Dumfries Hydro said Friday.

In Waterloo, hydro crews managed to restore power to the uptown area of the city in the early afternoon. Meanwhile, the lights came back on for hundreds of people in the Grosbeak and Cedar Waxwing areas by 3 p.m. Saturday.