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Orillia, Oro-Medonte, Severn still feeling effects of Friday's storm 0

By Roberta Bell, Orillia Packet & Times

Heavy winds knocked this tree across Laclie Street near Jarvis Street Friday afternoon. Motorists had to turn around and drive in the direction they came until city crews removed the downed trunk and branches.
SARA ROSS - THE PACKET & TIMES

Heavy winds knocked this tree across Laclie Street near Jarvis Street Friday afternoon. Motorists had to turn around and drive in the direction they came until city crews removed the downed trunk and branches. SARA ROSS - THE PACKET & TIMES

ORILLIA - 

The cleanup is underway after an intense storm ripped through the city Friday, leaving more than 4,000 people in Orillia without power.

“It was a pretty massive storm,” said Pat Hurley, chief financial officer for Orillia Power.

He said most of the outages, some of which lasted only five minutes, were in the north ward and resulted from trees coming down on hydro lines.

City crews dealt with more than 50 wind-damaged trees following the storm, clearing them off roadways Friday night and trails in Couchiching Beach Park Saturday morning before the Scottish Festival, said George Bowa, Orillia’s director of public works.

All of the city’s roads workers and parks operations staff spent the entire day Monday chipping up and disposing of uprooted or snapped trunks and broken branches, he said.

An additional 25 trees went down in Oro-Medonte, said Jerry Ball, the township’s director of transportation and environmental services.

Like in Orillia, “most of them were snapped off or broken off or blew out over the hydro lines or onto the road,” he said.

Crews worked late Friday night clearing them off the roads.

The storm came on quickly and moved on quickly, which is “a good thing,” Ball said, adding if it had stuck around longer, it likely would have caused more severe damage.

Hydro lines in five different locations were affected, but power outages weren’t much of a problem, he said.

Severn Township wasn’t as lucky.

“We don’t have any roads closed,” said Clayton Cameron, Severn’s director of public works, “but we’ve got a lot of cleanup to do.”

He anticipated it could take all week.

There were power outages across the township, he said. They caused problems for the water and sewage stations, which had to run generators to keep them going until electricity was restored.

About 195,000 Hydro One customers across the province lost power due to the storm, said Hydro One spokesperson Tiziana Baccega Rofa.

Hydro One services the municipalities around Orillia — the city itself is serviced by Orillia Power — and, as of Monday afternoon, an estimated 655 people in the area, including about 300 near Washago, were still without electricity, according to the power-outages map on Hydro One’s website.

A number of locks along the Trent-Severn Waterway lost power as well, Parks Canada spokesperson Natalie Austin said in an email to The Packet & Times.

While power was restored Saturday morning at Lock 45 in Port Severn, it was out until Sunday at Lock 42 at Lake Couchiching and the Hamlet Road swing bridge, Austin said. Power wasn’t back on at Big Chute Marine Railway near Severn Falls until Monday morning.

Staff along the waterway ensured boaters in the areas affected were moored safely, Austin said.

“... The team on the Severn River made sure to contact local marinas to ensure boaters knew when the power was off and on and what mooring options were available,” she said. “Staff at Lock 42 Couchiching made a trip into town to purchase ice for boaters at their site and drove one boater to get groceries on their own time after work.”

Orillia OPP received 22 calls for service related to the storm between 2:30 and 4 p.m., said Const. Jim Edwards. A number of calls had to do with boats blowing away from their docks due to the winds. The majority, he said, had to do with property damage as a result of fallen trees.

Neither Orillia, Severn nor Oro-Medonte had a cost-estimate of the damage caused by the storm yet.

Calls to the Township of Ramara were not returned by press time.

roberta.bell@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @roberta__bell

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