ELORA – Thousands of people were left without power and with a significant cleanup after a major storm swept through the region on Wednesday night.
Several had homes and vehicles damaged due to falling trees and for some the power outage dragged well into Thursday.
Environment Canada issued a tornado watch for the northern portion of the county in the afternoon on Aug. 3, as well as a tornado warning in the southern end of the county around 6pm.
Both were later downgraded to severe thunderstorm warnings and the Weather Network’s Mark Robinson indicated there’s little evidence of a tornado in Elora, which appeared to be hardest hit by the storm.
“It’s tricky. We’ll hear from the Northern Tornadoes Project about whether this was a tornado or a downburst,” the meteorologist and storm hunter told the Advertiser in Elora on Thursday morning.
“From what I’ve seen, and I’ve been through many, many damage passes along with the Northern Tornadoes Project, I haven’t seen a lot of evidence for a tornado. I have seen a lot of evidence for a downburst.”
Robinson likened a downspout to dumping a bucket of water – “except you’re dealing with air and when it hits the ground, you can get as much as 120 to 130km/h winds when it strikes the ground.
“And as the storm is moving along, you’ll actually have those winds pushing ahead and along underneath the storm.”
On Aug. 4, the Northern Tornadoes Project (NTP) and Environment Canada meteorologists confirmed, following a site visit, the storm was in fact an EF0 downburst and not a tornado.
On social media the groups noted damage was “documented over an area at least 7km long and up to 2km wide” with “winds near 130km/h.”
Doug Clarke, who lives on McNab Street in Elora, was left with a major cleanup in his yard after a large tree was damaged by those strong winds.
“We believe it’s somewhere in the 60-to-70-year range,” said Clarke, who was not home at the time the tree was damaged.
While Clarke is upset by what happened to the tree, which he said actually belongs to Centre Wellington Township based on its location, he added he knows this is just nature taking its course.
Conservation area closed
The Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) announced at 9pm on Wednesday night the Elora Gorge Conservation Area would be closed “until further notice” due to “significant damage to trees.”
Anyone with camping or tubing reservations for the remainder of the week will be contacted regarding their bookings, officials said.
“All other [GRCA conservation areas], trails and natural areas remain open; however, the public is asked to exercise caution and avoid any areas where tree damage has occurred,” stated the press release.
Township: ‘remain patient’ during cleanup
On Aug. 5 Centre Wellington issued a press release stating the township had cleaned up and reopened all roads, and would now “focus our efforts on assisting residents with storm debris on boulevards and shoulders.”
The cleanup will begin on Aug. 8 on the south side of the river, “focussing on where majority of the damage occurred from the storm,” the release states.
From there staff will proceed through other areas of Elora, “stopping once on every street to support curbside clean-up.
“We ask that residents remain patient with staff, as it may take several weeks to pick up all storm related debris,” officials stated.
The township offered the following advice for those placing storm debris for burnside pickup:
- pile all branches neatly with cut ends facing the street;
- trunks and large branches will be included in the pick-up;
- only storm-related tree debris will be picked up (this is not a general yard waste pickup; and
- staff will visit each street only once, so ensure all material is curbside by 7am on Aug. 8.
“I cannot thank our public Works, infrastructure, Centre Wellington Fire Rescue Service and township staff enough for the dedication they have put forward over the last three days, and continue to do, to support our residents during the aftermath of the storm,” stated Mayor Linton.
“Staff were stationed as soon as the storm concluded on Wednesday evening and have not stopped since…
“Thank you to everyone for pulling together and showing that we are part of an amazing community here in Centre Wellington.”
No charge for dropping off brush
On Thursday morning, as cleanup efforts were in full swing, Wellington County announced the county was waiving drop-off fees for “storm-related brush.”
Effective until the end of the day on Aug. 13, fees will be waived at waste facilities in Aberfoyle, Belwood, Harriston and Riverstown.
Residents are reminded branches must not exceed six feet in length.
Visit www.wellington.ca/sws for waste facility hours/locations and more information.
-With files from Chris Daponte