A storm that will go down in the record books traveled a diagonal line from Michigan to Ottawa and beyond on Saturday, May 21st. In its path were the townships of North Frontenac and Addington Highlands. Enough damage was caused so a state of emergency was called in both townships.
Jeff Green from the Frontenac News reported on May 25th the storm was identified as a Derecho.
“A Derecho is a phrase used by meteorologists to describe a “widespread, long-lived windstorm” that is accompanied with thunderstorms. Derecho, which means ‘straight ahead’ in Spanish, is distinguished from hurricanes and tornadoes because the wind is straight, with no swirl or spiral.
Apparently, Derechos are quite common, but until Saturday the word was not part of the vocabulary of too many Ontarians.”
Those that witnessed the storm saw intense wind and rain (and sometimes hail) Saturday afternoon. Lake residents reported seeing sudden waves hitting the beaches, lifting boats, and boat lifts above the water. Downed trees were the major problem causing widespread loss of hydro, telephone, and Internet.
State of Emergency Declared
Jeff Green reports “On Sunday, Mayor Ron Higgins declared a state of emergency in the township.”
“On May 21, 2022, we had a severe major wind event throughout North Frontenac, people injured, some isolated until access is opened, backcountry campers trapped, hydro poles/lines down. Require assistance to restore roads, hydro and cellular, with 4-8 weeks of cleanup,” is the message that he posted on the township website and social media feeds.
The township itself also suffered damage. The roof has partially been ripped off the township garage that is co-located with the admin office on Road 506 between Ardoch and Plevna.
“It hit pretty well all over the township,” said North Frontenac Mayor Ron Higgins on Monday, when contacted while taking a break from working with one of his neighbours clearing some brush, “the statement of emergency will allow us to recover some of our costs from the province if our expenses exceed $180.000,” he said.
Most of the permanent residents have working generators, Higgins said, because power failures are no rarity in the township. However, when residents needed gas they found the gas stations in Cloyne, Northbrook, and Kaladar were without hydro and unable to pump gas. Many residents headed to Erinsville and Napanee with gas cans to keep generators running and food safely cold. By Monday, the service stations regained hydro but soon ran out of premium gas (recommended for generators) so again, some residents headed south.
In Addington Highlands, Reeve Henry Hogg reported a state of emergency Monday afternoon. Township road crews cleared roads and helped Bon Echo clear paths for exiting campers at the Park as some were stranded in the interior. Bon Echo closed the Park until at least June 12th to enable the safe clean-up of fallen trees.
One of the hardest-hit areas was Brown’s Park at the north end of Mazinaw Lake. Rachel Elsiufi of CBC News interviewed Lisa Martin for an article posted on June 6th.
“I feel like we got really the brunt of the storm here,” said Lisa Martin, a co-owner of Brown’s Park, a trailer campground in Cloyne, Ont.
She said a section of the park was destroyed and 21 trailers are probably going to have to be replaced, adding that part of the park will never be the same.
“People are used to camping over there in this beautiful old-growth pine forest. And now it’s just going to be … barren.”
Hydro crews are working continuously to bring back power throughout the region, but the timeframe for most remote areas remains unclear.
North Addington Education Centre was open Tuesday morning, May 24th, as much of the hydro was restored along Highway #41. Lake properties were much different with some regaining hydro, landline phones, and Internet a full week later. Areas farther away from Highway #41 such as Sheldrake Lake, the east side of Mazinaw Lake, and Kashwakamak Lake may need to wait several weeks until all services are restored because of large areas of fallen trees on the hydro lines.
Injuries from the storm are few although there have been some reports from Bon Echo and Sherwood Park campground.