Indoor riding arena

East of Ottawa, businesses and residents pick up the pieces after a devastating storm

Days after high winds toppled utility poles and flattened trees and buildings in eastern Ontario, electric utilities were still providing updates on the carnage from Orleans to beyond Hawkesbury.

Some of the damage to the Navan, Alfred, Plantagenet and surrounding hydroelectric grid was still under investigation Thursday afternoon, as social media filled with photos of the destruction – and offers to help.

Little Ray’s Nature Center in Sarsfield reported damage to sheds, fences, a roof and animal habitat (with all animals safe) while, less than a mile away, the steeple of St. lay in pieces upside down in the church parking lot.

“I saw crews start cleaning at 7 a.m. and by the end of the day they had cleared one side of a street,” said Cumberland Councilor Catherine Kitts, whose ward includes Navan, Sarsfield , parts of Orléans and other affected communities. “It’s not for lack of effort. Debris is piled up to seven feet high on the side of the road.

Across the region, businesses and farms have been working around the clock to organize support, clean up and try to get life back to normal.

Of course, there’s a unique challenge to doing all of this when working where you live. Ask Simone Williams of Queenswood Stables, a few minutes west of Navan.

“There was quite a bit of property damage, but not too much to the farm buildings,” she said. “There are trees going through the house, through the roof and the walls.”

Williams and his team handle the delicate task of clearing the property while avoiding uprooted century-old trees poised precariously at 45-degree angles overhead. Staff watered the horses by hand as the electricity was still off and Williams wanted to conserve what little diesel fuel was left to run the generator sparingly and power the tractor for clean-up operations.

“We have a lot of reservations trying to reschedule,” she said. “We are doing everything we can to secure the property. Fortunately, there was no loss of life. »

Despite the mess and the fuss trying to clean it all up, Williams said their indoor riding arena was relatively unscathed and provided space for other farmers who needed places to store hay.

Three miles south of Queenswood, Isabel Syme was hard at work preparing an equally helpless Domaine Perrault for a weekend wedding.

Syme, who manages events at the vineyard, said the steel beams of their event tent were bent by high winds. In addition, the vineyard’s storage barn collapsed and the roof of a dairy barn was torn off.

Isabel Syme has been busy with the aftermath of the storm as an events manager at a vineyard,

Worse still, up to half of their vines – up to three acres of grapes – have been swept away or crushed by fallen trees.

“A big tree fell on 30 plants and destroyed them,” Syme said. “I hope they will do well next year.”

Syme hopes operations will return to normal in the coming weeks, with barn repairs likely to take months. A tent rental had to arrive just in time to keep the wedding on track. She credits the strong response from family and friends for helping get things back to normal, noting that more than 20 people were on hand to help on the Monday following the storm.

Even in the midst of challenges, people have found ways to give back. Wendover Papanack Zoo received food that would otherwise have been wasted, as well as many volunteer helpers to repair damage to property. A call from L’Orignal Packing for a powerful generator to run commercial refrigerators and prevent meat from spoiling was answered within a day.

“The first few days we were focused on basic necessities,” Councilor Kitts added. “Now that we have a better idea of ​​the damage, I turn my attention to what is available in terms of disaster relief funding, how the province will help, and anything we can do for the farming community.

A relief fund set up by Amanda Watson of Country Moments Spa & Wellness Center on GoFundMe to help local farmers raise over $5,000 in one day.

Damage was less extensive in the Hawkesbury area, with power restored to most businesses and homes within days. The municipality reported that just over 35 people went to the Robert Hartley Sports Complex to take a shower. The cleaning should last at least one more week.