Ottawa

Gatineau residents slowly return home, 2 days after powerful twister

Residents in Gatineau, Que., are slowly returning to their homes after a tornado brought a trail of destruction to the region this weekend.

77 unsafe buildings still lay in the evacuation zone

Residents leave with some of their belongings from a Gatineau, Que., neighbourhood on Sept. 22, 2018. A pair of tornadoes the day before tore roofs off of homes, overturned cars and felled power lines in Ottawa-Gatineau. (Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press)

Residents in Gatineau, Que., are slowly returning to their homes after a tornado brought a trail of destruction to the region this weekend.

Of the 212 buildings evacuated Friday night, 153 have been deemed safe, according to a Sunday evening update on the city's website.

Gatineau officials are warning people who were evacuated not to return home until the authorities have given them the all clear.

Alexia-Jade Brunel of Montreal says it took her more than 36 hours after the tornado to connect with her 76-year-old father, who lives in the Mont-Bleu evacuation zone.

That neighbourhood was one of the hardest hit on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River.

After hearing about the storm, Brunel asked friends in the Outaouais to check in on her father's apartment, but first responders wouldn't let them in, saying it was too dangerous.

'This is unacceptable'

On Sunday she called the Gatineau police, who found her father in the dark in his unit.

"He was in his apartment confused and waiting for help" she told Radio-Canada in French.

"I think this is unacceptable." 
Stéphane Lachapelle is the assistant director of operations with Gatineau's fire services. (Kim Vallière/Radio-Canada)

Stéphane Lachapelle, assistant director of operations with Gatineau's fire services, said the fire department believes her father returned to his unit after he was evacuated.

He said firefighters knock on every door — and will break them down if they have to — to make sure everyone gets out.

The city says about 237 people slept in the gym at the Cégep de l'Outaouais on Saturday night, and close to 800 people registered at the victims' centre.

The centre is being moved to the Centre communautaire Père-Arthur-Guertin so students can return to the school.

Anyone who cannot return home is eligible for a free STO bus pass to get to the community centre.

At the height of the power outage, more than 200,000 hydro customers were in the dark. Hydro Ottawa and Hydro-Québec reported the number had dropped to 70,000 in the Ottawa area and 5,600 in the Outaouais region by Sunday evening.

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