Ottawa Storm Has Closed Schools & Power Outages Could Continue For Days

74,000 users still have no power.

Contributing Writer
Hydro Ottawa crew working to restore power.

Hydro Ottawa crew working to restore power.

The derecho storm that tore through Ottawa on May 21 has closed several schools and caused power outages that could last up to four days, according to Hydro Ottawa.

"This event is significantly worse than both the ice storm of 1998 and the tornadoes of 2018," the electricity provider noted in a news release. The company says the storm knocked out at least 187 hydro poles.

"We have full supply from the provincial grid — it's just our own distribution system has been crushed," said Hydro Ottawa CEO Bryce Conrad during a press meeting on Monday.

Hydro Ottawa says that nearly 180,000 of its customers had been impacted by the storm.

By Tuesday morning, Hydro Ottawa said that it had restored power to 106,000 customers after working both day and night. The company said that it restored large power outages first and then carried on to fixing smaller outages.

As of Tuesday morning, 74,000 hydro users were still without power.

"We are predicting, or forecasting, a two- to four-day outage from now," Conrad said during the press conference on Monday.

Schools closed for many students in Ottawa

On May 24, several Ottawa schools remain closed for safety concerns or because they are without power.

Both in-person and online classes at Algonquin College in Ottawa are cancelled after the school announced that it was still without power.

Carleton University and the University of Ottawa are open. The University of Ottawa has made showers and electrical outlets available to students and staff.

"uOttawa is making showers and electrical outlets at the Minto Sport Complex and Montpetit Hall available to students and staff affected by power outages during regular hours. uOttawa ID must be presented upon entrance. Bring your own towels," the university tweeted.

Schools that are part of the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board and the Ottawa Catholic School Board are closed.

"The decision to close all schools was based on the fact that approximately half of our schools are without power at this time and municipal officials are urging residents to stay off city streets as they attempt to stabilize roadways and traffic lights," reads a newsletter from Camille Williams-Taylor, director of education for OCDSB.

Castor Valley Elementary School and St. Monica School will both be closed for the week because of damage to the schools' roofs.

"Across the city, crews continue to assess storm damage and identify safety risks. Many neighbourhoods and families continue to deal with the challenges of power outages, downed trees, hydro lines, and road closures and traffic impediments," Williams-Taylor added.

The school boards say they are attempting to reopen schools by May 25, but that they are also preparing for virtual learning if schools can't reopen.

Schools part of the French public and French Catholic school boards are also closed.

Public health services have also been affected by the storm. Ottawa Public Health announced that all Ottawa COVID-19 vaccination clinics would be closed on Tuesday.

Sarah Crookall
Contributing Writer
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