Canada column for Sunday, Dec. 29/13
THE CANADIAN REPORT
(c) By Jim Fox
A massive ice storm has left about 56,500 homes and businesses in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick still without power after a week.
Hardest hit was Toronto where hydro crews had reduced the number of properties without electricity in below-freezing temperatures to 32,000 on Friday, down from a peak of more than 300,000 last Sunday.
At the start of the weekend, there were still about 40,000 customers in Ontario without power, 14,000 in New Brunswick and 2,500 in Quebec.
The storm coated trees and power lines with a thick layer of heavy ice, bringing them down and cutting off power.
The massive around-the-clock effort to clear trees and limbs to replace power lines and restore electricity has had utility companies in the three provinces receiving help from outside, including New York state and Michigan.
Toronto Hydro focused on restoring power to the most people in the shortest amount of time, including two hospitals, and is just now getting to clearing debris and reconnecting individual homes, said chief executive officer Anthony Haines.
Mayor Rob Ford, who has held daily news conferences since last Sunday and has visited “warming shelters,” said the city is “doing the best we can” at getting all the power restored.
Authorities were warning against the use of generators and barbecues inside to keep warm as there have been reports of five people killed in Ontario and Quebec from carbon monoxide poisoning.