We had been warned for days that a huge winter storm was heading our way. They weren’t kidding. We had not been warned, however, that our city would be overwhelmed by the magnitude of the damage that resulted.
The freezing rain started Friday and by Saturday evening everything was coated in a growing layer of ice. The power finally flickered off at 9 pm Saturday night.
With the exception of the massive power outage on the Eastern Seaboard in 2003, we have never had a power outage last more than a couple of hours. Even during the 2003 outage, we had power restored in less than 24 hours. It appears, however, that this time we were experiencing something unprecedented in the Toronto area.
For 48 hours we had no power and outside temperatures below freezing …. but we were one of the lucky ones. We have several gas appliances including a fireplace, stove, and hot water tank. It made the difference between having a portion of the house at 17C and being able to see your breath. We could have hot food and showers.
It was 48 hours of frustration. We are so accustomed to our electronic devices, without them was a challenge. There were small things that we chronically attempted because of habit – like trying to turn on a light every time we entered a room. It was a lesson we just couldn’t seem to grasp. Our neighbour`s car was held hostage in their garage by their remote door opener. The back entrance was locked from the inside of the garage and without power, the front doors could not be opened.
There were also bigger issues – people in condo buildings were not only cold and in the dark, but they no longer had water and many seniors were stranded in the upper floors without working elevators.
Another neighbour was extremely lucky at the minimal damage caused by a tree which collapsed under the weight of the ice.
Although the storm caused extensive damage and huge inconvenience, the iced landscape was absolutely beautiful. The trees looked like they were made of glass and sparkled brilliantly in the sunlight.
There is always a silver lining to be found in even the worst situations. One of our neighbours who had always been very cold and aloof became a different person when provided with a hot drink and cookies in our home which had become a warming station. I feel like we made a new friend!
It has been less than 24 hours since life came back to normal for us. It has been a mad dash of last minute activities to prepare for Christmas which starts tonight with our French Canadian dinner. This year I feel so very lucky … and the gift of heat and power is definitely something for which I am particularly grateful!
Best wishes to everyone and Merry Christmas!