Ottawa

Challenging storm cleanup still far from over southwest of Ottawa

In some places two hours southwest of Ottawa the debris and downed trees from the derecho storm are still exactly where the storm left them more than two weeks ago.

Hydro poles helicoptered in, popular Bon Echo park remains closed

A vehicle remains stuck under a tree at Brown's Park campground in Cloyne, Ont. (Kim Brown)

In some places two hours southwest of Ottawa, the debris and downed trees from the derecho storm are still exactly where the storm left them more than two weeks ago.

Dozens of trailers remain squashed under massive trees, vehicles are crushed and stuck in the forest and some people still don't have access to power. 

"I feel like we got really the brunt of the storm here," said Lisa Martin, a co-owner of Brown's Park, a trailer campground in Cloyne, Ont. 

She said a section of the park was destroyed and 21 trailers are probably going to have to be replaced, adding that part of the park will never be the same. 

"People are used to camping over there in this beautiful old growth pine forest. And now it's just going to be … barren." 

Martin said the experience so far with insurance and their contractors have been positive. She attributes the delay in cleanup to the "extreme devastation of this storm."

An arborist is expected there Monday to begin the massive cleanup

"It was just a miracle [that] nobody was hurt." 

A building in Brown's Park in Cloyne, Ont., had its roof destroyed by a fallen tree during the May 21 windstorm. The park's co-owner Lisa Martin estimates 21 trailers in the park aren't salvageable. (Kim Brown)

Still without power in North Frontenac 

"Two weeks later, we still have quite a few people still without power," said North Frontenac Mayor Ron Higgins. He said some people won't get access to the grid until the end of June, while others will have to wait until August. 

"[The storm] just took out a whole lot of hydro poles and other lines with it. It was just like a domino effect … 70 poles were snapped," he recalls. 

According to Hydro One, some customers in the Tweed, Ont., area will be "without power for several more weeks due to the extraordinary level of damage." Its estimated restoration time there is June 30.

North Frontenac mayor says approximately 70 hydro poles were taken down by the May 21 windstorm. (Submitted by Ron Higgins)

Higgins said the process to replace the damaged hydro poles will take a while. 

"Some of the poles have to come in by helicopter because of the remoteness of some of the areas," he added. 

In the meantime, he is focusing on cleanup in the township. 

"We have a lot of trees that are still hanging against other trees or the tops of them are broken and they are ready to fall. So we have a lot of dangerous trees along our roads that we still have to clean up."

'This is a tourist town and we have no tourists'

Bon Echo Provincial Park will remain closed until at least June 12 after it "received significant damage throughout the entire park." 

The closure is impacting small businesses in the area that serve park visitors, said Stephanie Regent, owner of Finnegan's General Store in Cloyne. She said the storm has set the town "back several weeks." 

"This is a tourist town and we have no tourists," she told CBC. "Our summers keep us alive in the winter.

"Anybody that's got a little business in this town, it has pushed them back. And the really important part of that is, all these businesses, they are family-owned, they're family-run, and they're independent businesses." 

Stephanie Regent says Cloyne, Ont., and its people have come together to support each other in the aftermath of the storm. (Submitted by Stephanie Regent)

There has been a silver lining, said Regent: the town and its people have never been so supportive of one another. 

"We've probably spent more time just chatting with people in the store in the last two weeks than we normally would at this time, because normally it would be too busy for that," she gushed with pride. 

"We have had so much love from the community and the ones who have been helping us the last two weeks." 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rachelle Elsiufi is a journalist with CBC Ottawa. She previously worked as a reporter with Citynews in Edmonton. You can reach her at rachelle.elsiufi@cbc.ca

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