Wind storm causes extensive damage

Power outages reported across southern Ontario

The Wind Seaker at left and a dozen other boats in the Harbour Marina in Port Dover got more than they bargained for Sunday as a fierce gale blew through southern Ontario. The storm caused widespread power outages and extensive damage, especially along lakeshore areas. – Monte Sonnenberg

Share Adjust Comment Print

LONG POINT – A powerful windstorm that blew through southern Ontario this weekend made for a wild ride in parts of Norfolk, Haldimand and elsewhere in southern Ontario.

Most every community incurred visible damage.

Meanwhile, power outages were widespread as numerous trees and large limbs toppled onto hydro lines. The cleanup started Sunday and continued into Monday afternoon.

“The Norfolk County Fire Department responded to 40 storm-related calls for service, mainly involving trees falling on hydro wires,” Norfolk County said in a news release Monday.

“A number of roads across the county remain closed due to downed trees, hydro wires and scattered debris. These include parts of Main Street, Walker Street and Harbour Street in Port Dover and Hastings Drive on Long Point, among others.

“The public is asked to be patient while crews work with Hydro One to safely clear the roads.”

The storm inflicted extensive damage along the north shore of Lake Erie. A dozen boats in storage at the Harbour Marina in Port Dover were toppled while tarps and shrink wrap on dozens of others were shredded by the 90-kilometre-per-hour gusts.

“I imagine they sustained some serious damage,” Ray Giles of Giles Marine in Port Dover said while tending to a damaged boat in the facility.

Across town, the storm caused serious flooding in low-lying areas of Port Dover. Large branches, pieces of driftwood, seaweed and debris were everywhere while sand was thick on the road up to the intersection of Hamilton Plank Road and St. Andrew Street.

“I’ve lived here for quite a while,” said Lincoln Knechtel of Port Dover. “I’ve never seen the water quite that high. It was nuts.”

A similar storm in the winter of 1985 wiped out dozens of cottages in Long Point, which is exposed to the full fury of Lake Erie on the other side of Long Point Bay. For the most part, cottages fronting onto the lake on Woodstock Avenue held up well. However, some incurred serious damage.

The backyard of one property on Woodstock Avenue near Conductor Lane was ripped out. Destroyed were a large deck and landscaping while in-ground septic infrastructure was fully exposed.

Flooding and ponding throughout the resort community was general Monday morning.

However, many residents of Long Point have adapted to windstorms and lake surges in recent years as these events have become more common. Wise cottagers keep a generator handy to deal with the inevitable power outages.

Ed and Joan Hovestadt of Willow Avenue in Long Point rode out the gale with friends while watching The Crown with the aid of a generator.

At the height of the storm, their street and property was inundated but the cottage stayed dry thanks to its higher elevation. The couple said Monday that the high howling winds were harrowing at times, but they endured.

“We had this experience last spring,” Joan said. “We had everything off the ground. We’ve never seen winds that high. And we’ve been here 20 years. But we felt safe. We were prepared.”

Widespread, lengthy power outages translated into an unscheduled day off Monday for hundreds of students in Norfolk County. Classes were cancelled at Port Rowan Public School, Valley Heights Secondary School, Houghton Public School and Oakland-Scotland Public School due to the lack of hydro.

Staff at the Busy Bee service centre at the intersection of Highway 24 and 59 lived up to their name Monday as they were the only service station in the Port Rowan area with electricity. They too have learned to keep a generator handy. Customers late Monday morning were backed up onto Highway 59.

“We’re the only ones with power,” said pump attendant Ryan Duesling. “People are saying you either have to drive to Simcoe or Tillsonburg if you want gas. They’re lined up to the road.”

No communities were untouched. Damage to buildings, trees and property was also reported in Waterford, Simcoe and Delhi.

In a news release, the Long Point Region Conservation Authority warned that near-record high water means the lakeshore flood threat will persist for the foreseeable future anytime there are powerful winds from the south or southwest.

“This event produced flood levels similar to those reached Oct. 31, 2019,” Paul Gagnon, the authority’s lands and water supervisor, said.

“Lake Erie static water levels are expected to remain near-record highs over the coming months.

“High static water levels increase the risk of flooding caused by moderate to severe wind-driven surges. Strong lakeshore surge events typically occur from fall through spring.”


A large tree was uprooted during Sunday’s storm along Highway 3 just west of Simcoe. (ASHLEY TAYLOR) Ashley Taylor / Simcoe Reformer

A piece of sheet metal was ripped off the roof at Picard’s Peanuts in Waterford and blew across the road during Sunday’s storm. The damage to the roof was visible on Monday morning. (ASHLEY TAYLOR) jpg, SR