Charities unite to aid tornado victims

Relief organizations in Ottawa are coming together under a common banner to help victims of last week's tornadoes.

Power restored to hardest-hit neighbourhoods Wednesday

Arlington Woods was the last area of Ottawa to have power restored after Friday's tornadoes. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)

Relief organizations in Ottawa are coming together under a common banner to help victims of last week's tornadoes.

The United Way, Canadian Red Cross, Salvation Army, Ottawa Food Bank and several other charities are joining forces to collect donations via a new website.

"Disasters occur and they are present for us for as long as they stay alive in the news cycle, but the truth is, recovery will take weeks, months and in some cases years," said Carole Gagnon, vice-president of resource development with the United Way. "Our goal together is to make sure those people who are suffering tremendous challenges are not forgotten."

Initially, the charities will focus on food security, counselling services and vulnerable seniors, Gagnon said.

Donation to food bank

The United Way has also made a $20,000 donation to the food bank to help replace groceries that were spoiled during the power outage that resulted from the storm.

The Ottawa Senators also pitched in Wednesday, with players Chris Wideman, Mark Stone and Brady Tkachuk signing autographs at a local business to raise money for the relief effort. 

Power had been restored Wednesday to most of Ottawa and Gatineau after hydro crews worked long hours to repair the damage from the six tornadoes that hit eastern Ontario and western Quebec

Arlington Woods was the last neighbourhood to have electricity restored Wednesday.

Andrew Brewin says parts of his home on Riverbrook Road will have to be rebuilt. (CBC)

Fees waived

Ottawa city council voted Tuesday to waive demolition and building permit fees for residents in the neighbourhoods hardest hit by the storm. 

Coun. Eli El-Chantiry, whose ward includes the tornado-ravaged Dunrobin area, told council residents there were grateful for the help they've received from first responders and other city workers.

He urged the city to continue helping those residents as they rebuild their lives.

"What we heard from residents is that we need the process to be expedited," El-Chantiry said. "That's where we need the help."

The city is also planning information sessions for residents later this week.

The first will be held Friday for residents in the Gloucester-Southgate ward at the Greenboro Community Centre between 5 and 7 p.m. Another will be held Saturday for people in the Knoxdale-Merivale and River wards at the Woodvale Pentecostal Church from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

A third session will be for those in the West-Carleton March ward, also on Saturday, at West Carleton Secondary School on Dunrobin Road from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Schools reopening

In Gatineau, just 16 customers remained without power as of 3 p.m. Wednesday.

Most schools in Ottawa have reopened, including West Carleton Secondary School, which was used as an emergency shelter in the days following the tornadoes. Knoxdale Public School is expected to remain closed until Friday because of damage caused by the storm.

In Gatineau, Hadley Junior High School and Philemon Wright High School will be closed until next week, while École Secondaire Mont-Bleu will remain closed for the rest of the school year after lightning sparked a fire.

The local school board said Wednesday Mont-Bleu students will be moved to École secondaire de l'Île for the remainder of the year.