Montreal

Morin-Heights residents come together to weather the weekend's storm

Residents’ cars and homes have been destroyed and thousands are still without electricity

Residents’ cars and homes have been destroyed and thousands are still without electricity

Al St. Onge's home was wrecked by fallen trees in Saturday's storm. ( Kwabena Oduro/CBC)

Al St. Onge was still hard at work on Monday cleaning up after several trees fell on his home in Morin-Heights during Saturday's storm that battered much of Quebec and Ontario.

St. Onge had been relaxing and having a drink with his partner that afternoon in their backyard when the wind suddenly picked up, knocking over trees in the nearby forest.

"Within 30 seconds it picked up the whole forest in one shot, in three seconds the whole forest just toppled over," he said. "Wow! You don't mess around with mother nature."

He has another property that he can't even get to — the damage is that bad. 

"The whole front of the building is destroyed," he said.

Saturday night's storm packed winds between 83 and 144 km/h, uprooting trees, downing power lines, leaving thousands in the town without power.

Over 167,000 customers in the province are still without power, and some 600 teams are on the ground working to bring back the power, Hydro-Québec reported Monday. At the height of the storm Saturday night, roughly 550,000 were without power.

Carolyn Cornish, another resident in Morin Heights, had been sitting on her couch that night when she saw a large tree branch fall in front of her window.

She didn't realize it right away, but the top half of the tree by her house had snapped off, falling on her roof. 

"Make no mistake, it was a shocking event," she said.

Luckily her neighbours were more than happy to help her out, and she found shelter at a nearby home. 

Morin-Heights, in the Laurentians, was hit hard by this weekend's storm and is still reeling from the damage. Only about 200 resident there had electricity as of Monday, the town's mayor said. Trees were seen toppled over cars, fallen on roofs and power lines littered the streets.

Because many residents rely on wells, even showering and using the washroom is impossible for some. With no Internet, phones or stoves many are left feeling cut off from the world.

But community ties are keeping the town strong.

Morin-Heights, north of Montreal, was hit hard by Saturday's storm. (Kwabena Oduro/CBC)

The local community center has been turned into an emergency shelter. A generator has been hooked up allowing people to charge their phones, cook, get water and take showers.

For those whose homes have been damaged, cots have been set up so they have a place to sleep.

Morin-Heights' mayor of 13 years, Tim Watchorn, says he's never seen anything like this before.

"It was wild, it was like a movie," he said.

As of Monday morning, most roads had reopened but the town was still waiting for Hydro-Québec's help cleaning up the damaged trees and fallen wires.

Internet providers Cogeco and Bell say they're waiting for Hydro-Québec to fix power lines before they can restore service. Cogeco says it's sending some of its customers generators.

Watchorn said he expects the clean-up and electricity recovery to take at least another couple of days. 

"We're tired, we're working hard," he said.

with files from Kwabena Oduro

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