Ottawa

'Chainsaws going all day': Pontiac, Que., cleans up after possible tornado strike

At least 100 homes in Pontiac, Que., were significantly damaged by a possible tornado that passed through the region Friday evening, according to the municipality's mayor.

At least 100 homes damaged in Friday's storm

One of roughly 100 homes damaged by a possible tornado that tore through Pontiac, Que., on Sept. 21, 2018. (CBC)

More than 100 homes in Pontiac, Que., were damaged by a possible tornado that passed through the region Friday evening, according to the municipality's mayor.

Joanne Labadie said heavy winds tore the roofs off local buildings, while also uprooting old-growth trees from the heavily-forested area and tossing them around like "projectiles."

At least 15 homes have been totally destroyed, she said.

"It's certainly an emergency that hits our community very hard," Labadie told CBC News Saturday afternoon, noting the municipality was also severely struck by devastating spring floods less than two years ago.

Watch raw video of the storm from Luskville, Que.:

Security cameras at the Luskville home of Stephan Quessy and Véronique Bourgault kept rolling as the tornado ravaged their home and even ripped off the roof of a neighbouring building. 0:17

Environment Canada confirmed that a tornado that touched down in Ottawa-Gatineau Friday night was likely an EF-2, meaning it had sustained winds of 179 to 218 km/h. Environment Canada has not confirmed if a tornado touched down in Pontiac.

One resident told Radio-Canada she wasn't able to get to her home's basement in time and bunkered down in the living room, as the high winds blew out the windows.

"I was so afraid, because I thought, what else is going to come down, you know?" the woman said. "And then it was over."

Pontiac, Que., Mayor Joanne Labadie says at least 100 homes were damaged by the storm that tore through the region on Sept. 21, 2018. (CBC)

Still no power

Labadie said that two people in her community suffered minor injuries in the storm. She said she believed all of the town's residents displaced by the storm, she added, had found short-term accommodations.

The power remains out, however, and Labadie said it "could be days" before Hydro Québec is able to restore service to the area.

While they wait for the lights to come on, Labadie said municipal work crews, firefighters and residents have all banded together to clear the local roads of fallen trees.

"There have been chainsaws going all day," she said.

In a statement, the municipality said potable water would be available at the garage behind the town hall in Luskville on Highway 148 from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Sunday, as well as inside the town hall during regular business hours.

Anyone needing lodging should contact the Red Cross at 1-877-362-2433, the municipality said. Psychological support is also available from the Outaouais Health Service by calling 811.

Residents who have not contacted their insurance company should do so, the statement added.

Labadie also urged curious onlookers to stay away from the town as their presence was slowing down the relief efforts.

Quebec Premiere Philippe Couillard speaks to reporters in Pontiac, Que. (CBC)

'Surprising and terrible'

Quebec Premier Phillippe Couillard took time out from his provincial election campaign to visit the community, and said he was particularly moved by the story of one local resident who lost a home he built with his own hands.

"It's so surprising and terrible to see the disaster," Couillard said.

"The good news is here — people helping each other. That's something that we always see."

Couillard said the $1 million the province has contributed to the Canadian Red Cross for short-term aid would also be available to people living in Pontiac.

With files from CBC News Network and Kim Vallière