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Wind storm wreaks havoc on region

Storm damage - Firefighters had to extract the driver of a truck towing a recreational trailer when high winds flipped both over on Highway 6 north of Fergus.  Submitted photo

Wind storm wreaks havoc on region

by Patrick Raftis and Mike Robinson

WELLINGTON CTY. - Strong winds, with gusts estimated at up to 120km/h struck the region on May 4, downing trees and power lines, damaging property, blocking roads and leaving area residents without power for varying stretches of time.

Some county residents were without power from 3:30pm on Friday afternoon until Sunday afternoon.

Following the storm, shingles could be seen missing from numerous houses in the county.

The storm caused widespread damage, and three deaths - two Milton men and a Hamilton resident - across Ontario. Hydro One reported as many as 180,000 customers were without power at various points in the storm.

The Grand River Conservation Authority announced the closure of four parks, including Belwood Conservation Area and Elora Gorge Park, as well as sections of the Elora Cataract Trailway, due to downed trees, power lines and other safety concerns.

The wind storm made for a busy weekend for not only hydro crews, but also first responders. Two fires, one in Harriston and one in Centre Wellington, were attributed to the storm (see related articles on page 23).

In Centre Wellington, high winds led to nine calls on May 4, and a total of 12 calls over the weekend, mostly for downed power lines.

In a telephone interview with the Advertiser, Centre Wellington Fire and Rescue deputy chief Jonathan Karn called the weekend “a bit crazy.”

Along with the fire in the southern portion of the township, one of the most significant calls was for a vehicle rollover on Highway 6 north of Fergus.

Karn explained the collision involved a pickup truck pulling a recreational trailer.

“The wind actually blew the travel trailer over, causing the truck to flip and roll over,” said Karn, noting a passenger had to be extricated from the vehicle.

He added injuries were not life-threatening, but one individual was taken to Groves Memorial Community Hospital.

Karn, who noted the highway was closed for a few hours, was quick to acknowledge the efforts Guelph Wellington paramedics and Wellington County OPP officers, who worked with firefighters to extricate the passenger from the truck.

In the Town of Minto, downed trees also caused property damage and power outages.

Many Harriston residents were without power from late afternoon until around 9pm Friday night, and many rural residents were without power well into Saturday.

Minto firefighters responded to a call for downed power lines on Regency Road near Drew around 4pm and dealt with a fire at a Harriston apartment complex later that evening.

Karn noted noted that when CWFR attends downed hydro line calls “quite often the power has already gone out, but we cannot verify that until Hydro One attends.”

“If it is out in the country or rural area,” Karn said “if Hydro One is going to be a while in coming, we will make sure the area is safe and advise residents to stay away.”

Crews will use fireline tape to caution off the area.

Karn noted there have been times where the hydro lines are arcing - still powered up.

“In that case, we will close the area down and leave a truck on scene until Hydro One comes to shut the power down.”

Karn added “as you can appreciate it was busy for Hydro One crews on Friday night.”

On May 7, the County of Wellington announced fees for wood debris from the May 4 wind storm will be waived through May 12 at county waste facilities that accept wood waste: Riverstown, Harriston, Belwood and Aberfoyle.

The county notes large loads of waste may be redirected to the Riverstown landfill. Check the county’s website for landfill hours and locations.

- With files from Caroline Sealey


May 11, 2018


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