Ottawa

'We just took cover': Orléans reeling after tornado tears through region

Residents in Ottawa's east end neighbourhood of Orléans are assessing the damage from a major storm Sunday evening that saw a tornado rip through the region.

Storm damaged trees, homes and parks — but no major injuries — as tornado warning lifted

A funnel cloud is seen from a home in Ottawa's Orléans neighbourhood on Sunday. (Submitted by Sylvie Madore)

Residents in Ottawa's east end neighbourhood of Orléans are assessing the damage from a major storm Sunday evening that saw a tornado rip through the region.

A single tornado was spotted near the Gatineau airport, just on the other side of the Ottawa River, at 5:55 p.m., Environment Canada said.

The weather agency later said around 8 p.m. that a possible tornado had also been spotted near L'Orignal, Ont., moving east at about 30 kilometres per hour.

"There's no doubt that there was a tornado," meteorologist Alexandre Parent said.

"But regarding its intensity, its precise track, all these different details, we'll have to be on the ground. And these [questions] will be answered tomorrow morning."

The weather agency had placed the city of Gatineau, as well the Papineau, Que., area to the northwest and the municipality of Prescott-Russell, Ont., to the east under a tornado warning as the tornado was moving along the Ottawa River.

All three warnings have now been lifted, although severe thunderstorm warnings remain in place in certain parts of the region.

Damage in Orléans

In Ottawa's Orléans neighbourhood, trees were uprooted and several homes were damaged by the storm, fire officials said.

Greg Laidlaw said he was downstairs in his Balsam Drive home when he suddenly heard the wind pick up.

Then, his neighbour's portable shed slammed into the side of his house.

"We just took cover," he said. "It was kind of scary but it wasn't that bad. I'm sure people got hit worse."

Helena and David Robb had just sat down to watch TV when the storm hit.

They said when they assessed the damage afterward, they found they had no structural damage to their home.

"The trees started to bend and the wind howled," David Robb said. "I didn't know if it was a down draft ... or a tornado, but it sure wreaked its vengeance on us in a short period of time."

A large tree branch rests on a driveway on Singleton Way in Ottawa's Orléans neighbourhood following an intense storm on June 2, 2019. (Submitted by J.P. Unger)

River areas hit hard

Ottawa paramedics said they handled a single "minor" call about a branch that fell on a resident's head while they were cleaning up debris.

As of 9 p.m., no major injuries had been reported.

While the tornado's precise track is still being investigated, many Orléans residents reported seeing it touch down, said ​​​​​​Orléans Coun. Matthew Luloff.

Luloff told CBC Ottawa that he'd seen extensive damage to trees and property, particularly in parts of the ward that sit along the Ottawa River. 

However, the damage didn't appear as severe as what happened during the Sept. 2018 tornado strikes, Luloff said.

"[We're] lucky not to see the kind of devastation we saw in Dunrobin," he said.

Highway 174 and Jeanne D'Arc Boulevard had both been closed during the worst of the storm, but they have since reopened.

Other residential streets are impassable due to fallen trees, police said.

The City of Ottawa said there were also reports of power outages and that first responders were performing door-to-door checks in the area.

People with downed trees should call 311, the city said.

With files from Olivia Chandler, Jessa Runciman and Maxime Huard

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