| Aug 10, 2006

Feature Article - August 10, 2006

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Feature Article - August 10, 2006

Echoes of '02 microburst as storm hits Hwy 41


Members of the Denbigh fire crew were just settling in after completing a training session last Wednesday, when a powerful storm, the tail of a tornado that hit to the northeast, blew through the area, sending trees and power lines crashing over many properties and roads, including Provincial Hwy. 41.

Addington Highlands Fire Chief Casey Cuddy had almost made it to Cloyne when he received the emergency call and had to turn around. He wouldn’t make it home for another 13 hours.

Although power was only knocked out in Cloyne for a couple of hours when lightning hit a street light, the region to the north went dark for a couple of days as Hydro One worked on repairing its distribution system.


Hwy. 41 was closed from Bon Echo Park all the way to Vennachar Junction, with the hardest hit area being the Ashby Lake Road and Hwy. 41 junction, where the road was covered with fallen trees and branches, including hydro wires.

Twenty four members of the Addington Highlands Fire Department and the township’s roads crew began working immediately, closing off Hwy. 41, creating an alternate route and checking the side roads to see if people were injured or somehow in harm’s way.

Township crews had to do work that others normally do - removing trees from hydro lines when hydro crews took several hours to arrive because they were busy dealing with the regional power outage, and rerouting traffic because the OPP was “stretched to the limit” and did not respond until the morning.

“Hydro crews arrived just before 2 a.m. and they had wires cleared off Hwy. 41 by 3:30 to 4:00,” Casey Cuddy told the News, “but the road remained closed because of a Bell Canada line that was hanging a few feet above the ground. It was shortly after 6 am when a Bell van arrived, but it wasn’t an equipped van. The Bell worker supervised our crews and we had the line moved and the road opened by eight o’clock.”

After dawn firefighters performed door-to-door checks on many of the residences and cottages in the Ashby Lake area, and road crews made sure all of the township roads were usable.

Unlike the microburst, which hit almost exactly four years earlier, there was little damage to property, and few injuries, although there was a person injured at Bon Echo Park , and a tree came down on the roof of Scott’s shopping centre at Vennachar Junction. Fortunately the injury was minor and the roof at Scott’s withstood the impact of the tree.

In the aftermath of the storm, Addington Highlands Council and staff are trying to set up a de-briefing meeting with police, hydro, ambulance and Bell Canada officials to discuss how to improve communications and response times in severe storm situations along provincial highways.

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