London neighbourhoods clean up after weekend storm hits Ontario, Quebec

As of Monday afternoon, most London Hydro customers have had their power restored as crews continue to repair power lines damaged during Saturday's powerful thunderstorm in parts of Ontario and Quebec.

Most homes in southwestern Ontario city have had power restored, London Hydro says

A large tree came down on this car on Princess Avenue in London, Ont.'s Old East Village. The residential streets bordered by Dundas, Quebec, Central Avenue and Adelaide Street suffered considerable damage. (Andrew Lupton/CBC News)

As of Monday afternoon, most London Hydro customers have had their power restored as crews continue to repair power lines damaged during Saturday's powerful thunderstorm.

London's Old East Village was hit particularly hard by the sudden and violent storm, with a number of homes and vehicles damaged by falling trees. A mature tree uprooted by high winds caused extensive damage to a house on Ontario Street. 

"There was a lot of destruction from the storm, so things had to be cleaned up before power could be restored," said London Hydro spokesperson Nancy Hutton. "They've been working round the clock to get power restored to the balance of the customers." 

One of those waiting for the electricity to be restored Monday was Princess Avenue resident Kate Lawless. She was away from home when the storm hit, but a call from her husband alerted her to the damage she would face upon returning home. 

A mature tree uprooted by the winds came down on this house in London's Old East Village. (Andrew Lupton/CBC News)

"My husband called me and said, 'Prepare the kids, there's some trees down and it looks pretty disturbing,'" she said. "A car was crushed by one of the trees across the street. I got here and it was pretty disastrous."

Her house wasn't badly damaged, but falling trees took out the power service. That work is done by private electricians, not London Hydro, so she was waiting for one to arrive on Monday so her power could be restored. 

"We'll be one of the last to be hooked up, so we're playing the waiting game now," she said. 

Many of the residential streets in Old East Village are blocked off and limited to local traffic to create room for electricians and tree-clearing crews in the area bordered by Adelade Street to the west, Quebec Street to the east, Dundas Street East to the south and Central Avenue to the north.

By Monday at 12:30 p.m. ET, London Hydro had tweeted that power had been restored to most customers.

At the height of the storm on Saturday afternoon, about 32,000 customers were without power. By Sunday evening, that number was down to 1,500.

The storm brought lightning and downpours, but it was heavy winds that did the most damage, pulling down trees and damaging power lines.

Hutton said London Hydro and City of London crews worked together 24/7 to clear streets of fallen trees and debris and reconnect lines. 

"The difficulty has just been getting everything cleared to allow for crews to safely work on the lines to restore power," she said. "It takes time to remove the debris and get things cleaned up so that the crews can safely work." 

Images of the extensive storm damage were shared on social media from neighbourhoods across London, including Huron Heights, Old East Village and Woodfield. 

Hutton said the storm is one of the worst she's seen. 

"I think the biggest issue here was there were a number of very mature trees that were uprooted," she said. "It blocked streets and just made for a longer time period to clean up the trees and downed power lines, and it was widespread throughout the city." 

Wood from a fallen tree is piled up and waiting to be cleared on Princess Ave. The residential streets north of Dundas in Old East Village were among the hardest hit in Saturday's thunderstorm. (Andrew Lupton/CBC News)

You can get the latest information here on London Hydro's outage map. 

The storm caused widespread damage across southern Ontario and Quebec. There were no reports of injuries in London, but the storm is being blamed for eight deaths. 

The Ontario towns of Uxbridge, north of Toronto, and Clarence-Rockland, east of Ottawa, both declared states of emergency. 

Hutton said although much of the damage in London has been cleaned up, people still need to be cautious near large trees because the limbs and branches could have been weakened by the storm. Also, Hutton said people should stay well clear of any downed power lines they see. 

"I want to thank Londoners for their patience. I know it's hard to go without power."

Hutton also said homes that had lines damaged where they connect to the building will have to call an electrician for any necessary repairs and inspections before their homes can be reconnected. 


Andrew Lupton is a B.C.-born journalist, father of two and a north London resident with a passion for politics, photography and baseball.