High winds cause WC havoc this morning

FITZROY HARBOUR – Powerful winds have wreaked havoc all over West Carleton this morning (Nov. 1) breaking tree branches, cutting power, sparking fires and closing the Quyon Ferry.

Wind gusts of up to 80 kilometres an hour have ravaged the community this morning with power outages reported in Carp, Constance Bay and Kinburn and a reported 9,600 Hydro Ottawa customers across the city without power. Hydro Ottawa reports roughly 452 units were without power in West Carleton. The wind was also strong enough the Quyon Ferry’s cable snapped forcing the closure of the crossing and requiring the Ottawa Fire Service (OFS) to break out the water rescue unit and attend the scene.

OFS District 6 Chief Bill Bell took a brief break from his busy morning to speak with West Carleton Online.

“Ah geez, we’ve had lots of calls for wires down and a couple pole fires,” Bell said. “It’s been a busy day.”

Bell says there were about four or five calls for service related to hydro lines. The two pole fires were easily handled as well. The fire starts when tree branches are pushed down on to the wires from the high winds which can cause sparking and a fire.

“We were there mostly for safety precautions,” Bell said. “The rain helped out and kept the fire to a minimum. So, we just wanted to make sure it was a safe scene.”

A section of Stonecrest Road was closed for a brief period due to downed trees, branches and wires.

Hydro Ottawa is now (12:05 p.m.) reporting power has been restored in the West Carleton area and expects all outages to be repaired by 1 p.m.

Ottawa Fire Station 62 in Fitzroy Harbour, which houses the west’s water rescue unit was called out to the Ottawa River this morning to assist with a much larger cable issue. The cable the Quyon Ferry uses to pull itself from dock to dock snapped in this morning’s high winds.

“There were minimal numbers on the ferry,” Bell, who attended that scene as well, said. “We were called late to the scene and were there just to make the scene safe.”

All passengers on the ferry were safely removed from the ferry and the OFS assisted in getting the ferry’s captain safely to shore.

“We made sure the captain got off okay and provided safety oversight while the boat was secured,” Bell said. “The guys got out of the water after that.”

A second water rescue team was on hand, but on shore, as is protocol for all water rescue operations.

“Any time we have a water issue there is always a second boat for safety issues,” Bell said.

Bell says the ferry “won’t be towed until the wind subsides,” and expects the Quyon Ferry will be closed for a few days while the new cable is installed.

The Quyon Ferry Facebook page says operations have halted but gives no indication as to when they might re-open.

As a result of the high winds, two West Carleton schools have been closed for the day. The Ottawa Carleton District School Board says Stonecrest Elementary School students and staff are safe, but without power the school cannot remain open. The Extended Day Programs are also cancelled. Parents have been asked to pick up their children as soon as possible. Staff will remain until all students have been picked up. Parents needing to make special arrangements are asked to phone the school at 613-832-5537.

West Carleton Secondary School is also closed and buses were used for an early dismissal with students heading home around 12:30 p.m.