Derecho Aftermath

Derecho

Ten days later, residents of Ontario and Quebec are still dealing with the aftermath of the derecho that hit here recently. Originally no one knew what to call it; however experts soon weighed in to label it a derecho. Google says that’s pronounced dr·ay·chow.

What is a Derecho?

The dictionary describes the phenomena as follows:

a line of intense, widespread, and fast-moving windstorms and sometimes thunderstorms that moves across a great distance and is characterized by damaging winds.

Oxford Dictionary

My brother, currently living the good life in Mexico, pointed out that derecho means “straightforward” in Spanish. Both descriptions make sense as the distinct path spread across Ontario and Quebec from the Toronto region heading northeast, wreaking havoc on its way. Winds were clocked at up to 132 km (82 miles) per hour.

I am still shaking my head in awe at the fact that plastic chairs on our cottage deck were untouched while three trees crashed to the ground all around the same deck. Unbelievable! Big Bird didn’t even bat an eyelash, while we were hiding out in the basement in shock.

Dealing with the Aftermath

Downed hydro wires, poles, and transmission towers as well as magnificent, mature trees ripped out by their roots or split in two (or more) are still being repaired and cleaned up. We have now reached the first day of June on the calendar. Many people just regained their electricity within the past few days while others, including our cottage, are still out. Over 900,000 homes were without power at some point. We have been keeping an eye on the (very convenient) Hydro One Storm Centre site for updates in the rural areas of Ontario so we know when to head back to the cottage to begin the massive cleanup.

One of the advantages of our (Ottawa) suburb of Kanata is that most hydro wires are buried underground. So, while we lost lots of trees, the streets and neighbourhoods within the heart of Ottawa were strewn with hydro wires, poles (last count is 200), and transmission towers.

Insurance Coverage

The Insurance Bureau of Canada advises those policyholders affected to be sure to:

document storm damage to their homes, belongings and automobiles using video and pictures. It has also prescribed that policyholders should keep the receipts if they are having a crew help with the cleanup or remediation of their properties.

IBC

In the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time

Ten victims of the storm paid the ultimate price with their lives when they were unable to get out of the way of falling trees. Many of us were warned to take cover from severe thunderstorms just before the derecho hit. That was helpful if you were close to your cell phone or TV and close enough to a shelter from the storm.

Sadly, not everyone was. My heart aches for the victims as well as their families and friends.

Our cleanup pales in comparison. For that fact I am grateful!

Storm Hits Ontario, Hard but Selectively

storm

Parts of Ontario were hit hard by a violent storm yesterday. Depending on where you live or happened to be at the time, you may or may not have experienced incredible damage. Most of the damage was to trees, some completely uprooted while others literally split in half. I was one of the (un)lucky ones to have the storm visit both of my properties. The first map shows you the extensive power outages in the Ottawa area. The second one shows you those affected in Ontario:

Cottage Property Damage

We were working outdoors at our cottage when the storm hit. If this sounds familiar, it’s because the tornado that destroyed neighbourhoods in Ontario back in September 2018, came close to our cottage property too. I thought I had posted about that story, but apparently not. I’m sure many of you heard the details though and have stories of your own. In short, two sons and a friend just finished installing a new roof on our cottage and were heading home when one son called to tell us of all the trees down and power outages on their way home to Ottawa. We had no damage to our property.

Yesterday’s (? tornado, the verdict is still out) storm hit closer this time. Hubby and I were working on outdoor renovations when the skies got dark and the wind picked up. That was the only warning we had. Others have said they heard warnings on TV and on their phones. As mentioned, we were outside with neither technological device handy. Just like last time.

This picture was taken by my daughter-in-law who was visiting her sister in Carleton Place. They were hit there about 20 minutes after we were hit in Ompah. The storm was cutting a swath from southwest to northeast Ontario, at least according to my contacts. From the map above it appears to have hit further north and west as well.

We quickly stashed our tools in the garage and headed indoors to watch the approaching storm from (relative) safety. I watched in disbelief as the first tree split and crashed thirty feet in front of me, then a second snapped like a twig landing on our paddle boat that was leaning against the tree. That’s when we ran for cover in our basement. These fallen trees were tall, healthy, mature evergreens (pine), part of the skyline I love so much on our property. They now lie across our lawn, between our cottage and the lake…this could take weeks to clean up….so much for renovations……again.

Many of our neighbours were not so lucky. Right next door, three massive evergreens were uprooted, two falling on their roof and one hitting the (old, unused) antennae on our roof. If not for the antennae it would have hit our roof. The good news is since these trees were uprooted, they fell slowly, so there is no damage to the roof.

Many of our other trees remain intact and unharmed, thankfully. Walking around after the storm subsided we could see an incredible number of downed trees and wind-blown furniture. What I found amazing was the sporadicness (?word) of the storm. We have a row of plastic, kid-sized lawn chairs on our deck, a few feet from the downed trees. The deck was littered with leaves but the chairs were unscathed, not even moved an inch!

Kanata (Ottawa) area Damage

Shortly after the message from my DIL in Carleton Place, I received pictures and messages from a neighbour in Kanata. I could follow the sporadic yet destructive path of the storm from my contacts. It was eery how some trees were demolished while others missed completely. Some areas (just) received heavy winds with patio furniture rearranged, but undamaged.

The trees on our street (Katimavik area of Kanata) were hit hard, at least those on the south side of the street. We live on the (north) lucky side, let with just a few small branches littering our lawn.

Upon return home, we walked around our neighbourhood gawking at all the damage. This is a video posted today.

Ontario Hydro and Hydro One

Both hydro companies are working overtime this weekend, trying to restore downed power lines and outages across the region. Reports of downed lines, towers and power outages are rampant on social media and news stations. These pictures are from Ontario Hydro:

Tree Removal

Tree removal services are also in great demand this weekend. Davey tree services were on our street shortly after the storm, working well after dark, then back again this morning.

Update

As time goes on, we have several updates. Environment Canada now calling the storm a derecho! Huh, a new word in my vocabulary. Here’s another one… atterradora is Spanish for scary! I’ve never heard of a derecho, but I’ve survived one! My Mexico-residing brother tells me derecho is Spanish for “straight-ahead” ………..interesting!

I hope you were one of the lucky ones that could watch the storm on the news, from a safe distance.

Have you Seen your latest Hydro Bill?

hydro

 

Have you looked at your hydro bill lately?  I mean really looked?  Do you have a hard time understanding the bills you pay?  It makes me wonder if they purposely make the bills confusing so that people will not look carefully and just pay what is requested without thinking about it. I have to admit that until I heard recently about the  drastically increasing  hydro costs, I did not pay enough attention to them.  It does not help when bills are automatically paid through paperless bank accounts.  These technological advances in banking and bill paying are very convenient, but can lead to consumer oblivion.

HydroOttawa provides the electricity to our home in Kanata, Ontario. After looking at our most recent bill very closely, I have a lot of questions…

Recently they have switched us from equalized payments to monthly billing.  I am not sure why, but somehow I do not feel it is to our advantage.    I heard recently of many complaints from rural residences that were charged exorbitant rates from HydroOne (one report was $12,000) through their pre-authorized automatic payment plan, then offered a credit to correct the mistake instead of a refund.  In other words, Hydro keeps the money and the customer is left with $12,000 less in their account. What would happen if you didn’t have that kind of money in your account (I’m sure you would still be stuck with a large interest charge for overdrawing on the account even though the mistake was not yours) or were counting on it for something else? (like food maybe)

Our consumption of electricity is categorized into off peak, mid peak and on peak periods of each day.  Reasonable, I guess, if nothing else to convince you to use less electricity during the on peak (more expensive) hours.  See the chart below for peak and non peak hours. What I do not understand is why there are two charges for each of these categories on my list of charges?

 

 

Demand
Periods
 Time-of-
Use Prices

 On-Peak 12.9 ¢ / kWh  Weekdays
 7 am – 11 am
5 pm – 7 pm                       
     
 Mid-Peak 10.9 ¢ / kWh  Weekdays
 11 am – 5 pm 
 Off-Peak 7.2 ¢ / kWh  Weekdays
 7 pm – 7 am
 Weekends
 All Day

 

also on the list of charges to be paid:

-HST (harmonized sales tax)

-Regulatory charges; they do attempt to explain what that entails on the back of the bill, but basically it means us funding the Ministry of Energy for the never ending scandals and inefficient, ineffective, billion dollar programs they come up with.

-A debt retirement charge to pay off the debt accumulated by Ontario hydro, which by the way, was paid off in 2011.  Instead of removing the debt retirement charge from our bills,  more money was borrowed to fund other Liberal  blunders.  So, on our bills it appears like the original debt wasn’t yet paid off, and we continue to pay.  To add insult to injury, top Ontario Hydro executives, probably the ones responsible for this massive debt in the first place, recently received bonuses to their salaries and extra padding to their already luxurious pension plans.

-and then a nice big delivery charge on top of our usage charges, which you get whether you use the electricity or not.  This we found out on a similarly confusing hydro bill from Hydro One who services our cottage in rural Ontario.  As our cottage is used only in the summer months (and even then mostly just on weekends) and not at all in the winter, you would think the delivery fee of approximately $80 per month would not apply off season.  No such reasoning, we pay the delivery fee every month, even though there is no electricity being used between October and May!

At the end of the list of charges, it shows a clean energy benefit credit!  This comes from the Ministry of Energy, currently run by the Liberal government, whose scandals (the cancelled gas plants saga that cost us $1.1 billion for example) we are paying for with the regulatory charge mentioned above.  Are you confused yet?  Why not just waste less money on the scandals and non-efficient, non-viable programs like another windmill farm that is slated for construction in Chatham, Ontario and charge us less upfront?

If I am complaining about the fees we pay for our home and cottage, what about the companies and organizations whose consumption would be much greater?  In comparison, their bills must be staggering!  I heard of one curling club that had to close its doors because it could not cover the increased cost of hydro with its membership dues; I have no doubt many other such organizations will be doing the same.

I also feel bad for the many pensioners in Ontario who are living on a fixed income.  Should they have to choose between paying for electricity and buying groceries?  I am not far from the fixed income days myself; what was supposed to be a comfortable, relaxing, well-deserved retirement may be a little more stressful than planned…