September Tornado 2018


On September 21st, 2018 several neighbourhoods in Ottawa and Gatineau were hit by a destructive tornado.   Other areas were also hit with very high wind gusts.    In just a few minutes, the landscape changed tremendously, and many residents were left with highly damaged properties (see some pictures below).

Huge trees broke, fell, or were completely uprooted.       Debris flung far and wide produced collateral damage.    It is mind boggling there were not more serious injuries.    Following this, there was a frantic effort to remove trees, clear the roads, cover holes in walls, windows and roofs.    As we were doing many temporary repairs, we were witnessing first hand the damages and the struggles the homeowners were experiencing.    We returned to the affected areas daily to continue doing temporary repairs for insurance companies through restoration companies.   I was continually amazed at the destruction but also surprised by how much could get done when people came together to help.    Many trades were on scene such as hydro workers, tree surgeons, engineers, construction companies, etc.

Even though the effort was quite impressive, 90 days following the event, many of the homeowners are not back in their homes.  Others are fortunate to be in their home but with plywood covering a window, tarps acting as shingles, etc.    If you were affected by this, you have found out quickly how tedious the process of restoring everything can be.  The city, insurance companies and engineers must assess damages.  Restoration companies and construction companies alike work to mitigate further damages, make a plan and determine a budget for the restoration of the properties.  This can take many months.     What adds to the frustration is that it is very hard to get answers as everyone is swamped at every junction and the bottlenecks slow the process down to a crawl.

Usual steps

  1. Storm happens.   City dispatches emergency workers for resident’s safety (i.e. downed power lines).
  2. Homeowner contacts insurance company.
  3. Insurance company dispatches a restoration company to go assess loss (make a list of property damages and damaged household items).
  4. Restoration company either performs the temporary repairs themselves or hires trades to do specific work in order to mitigate further damages (usually authorized very quickly).
  5. Game plan is suggested by restoration companies and reviewed by assigned insurance adjuster.
  6. Insurance gives authorization to proceed with permanent repair solutions depending on coverage, scope of work that needs to be done, etc.
  7. Much like a renovation or a construction project, the homeowner needs to decide on color and type of material, upgrades they may want to pay for, etc.

In the case of a tornado that takes place in Ottawa, the weather adds to the challenge.  With this specific tornado happening late in September, many of the temporary repairs were completed before the Winter but not the permanent repairs.     Homeowners are now asked to be patient and wait for Spring for much of the work to be started.

Some companies like Rancourt Roofing have decided to offer working throughout the winter to continue restoring the houses even if the conditions are not always ideal…for the workers.   Yes, it is not ideal to shingle in sub zero temperature but once the challenges are explained to clients, they understand that it can still be completed without problems in most situations.

Our company has been working with insurance and restoration companies for over a decade and we know how to assess, mitigate loss, report, plan and restore the roof to its original condition or better.

If you are dealing with an insurance claim and need some guidance from a company who has thousands of insurance claims under their belt, please don’t hesitate to contact us for some information.