Monday, December 23, 2013

Toronto Ice-storm, 2013: An Harrowing Eye Witness Account!

This post is reconstituted from notes that were originally written using the ash of a burnt-out candle, smudged onto an old shower curtain that my wife and I tore down and used as a blanket during the height of the blackout.  Hopefully, they will aid historians in understanding the near-calamitous events of these last few days.

Sunday, December 22nd, 10 AM:  The darkened face of my clock-radio alerts me to morning's portending danger.  Soon after, my wife enters the bed-room and tells me the bad news.  Our power is gone, and she's used all of the leftover hot water!

 I brace grimly for the day ahead!

10:45 AM: Our fridge contents have gone bad overnight, so we must venture outside for sustenance. Down in the lobby, other building residents have gathered to swap information and tales of survival! One of them has been up and down to the underground several times during the course of the morning, listening to news on a car radio.  Thus far,  the lift's emergency power source has held out!  She has not been trapped!  Brave woman!  And the guy I thought a weirdo at the last condo Board meeting turns out to be  fairly decent.  He explains that 250,000 customers without power means 1,000,000 people awakening to darkness.   "Holy hell!" I think.  "A million Torontonians inconvenienced!  Talk about a disturbance in The Force!  Margaret Atwood will probably write a whole damn book about this!  Call it Survival or something along those lines."

We  brave the outdoors, but McDonald's is closed.  This day will clearly require desperate measures!

1:15 PM: A long, danger filled shuttle-bus journey takes us to The Pad Thai Palace downtown where we find a wireless connection, and check our emails and update our face-book statuses.  What is the state of my mother-in-law's turkey, which we are supposed to eat on Xmas day?  Has their freezer been secured?  I don't want to get stuck with burgers.  My Pad Thai, incidentally,  is quite delicious, made especially piquant by the thought that this meal might be my last.  Until tomorrow anyway.  And as I eat I think of those less fortunate, for whom a meal and a warm apartment are luxuries beyond reach.  Then my side of shrimp-puffs arrive and I find them a tad meager, and complain to my wife about it for the rest of the afternoon

6:20 PM: We sit in our car in the underground and desperately attempt to recharge my wife's cell-phone, but I have purchased the wrong model of car charger, and nearly set the phone ablaze when I plug it into the lighter.  I near despair, and my wife advises me to think of the nicer things in life.  I realize that the office munchies at work get better as Xmas nears, and that Monday's offerings will almost certainly include chicken wings and sausage rolls.  Later, I go to sleep under a mountain of blankets, and dream of sausage rolls.

Monday, December 23rd, 1:45 AM: The power comes back, goes out 20 minutes later, comes back on permanently a half hour after that.  It seems like our long ordeal is over.

8:45 AM: NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!  My office has been closed!  A day of no real work and little finger foods has been destroyed!  I am forced to purchase a cheese bun at Longos!

But there's an upside!  I can go home and put on Pacific Rim, and watch Gipsy Danger punch it out with "Knifehead" for the 70th time.  And I reminded again of the Spirit of Toronto, that combination of luck, pluck and the old Protestant Work Ethic that has always managed to get us though hard times,  even a whole day without power in the  middle of the first world.  I am proud of my adopted city.  We will rebuild, and probably do some replanting as well.  The Leafs will miss the playoffs, and the Blue Jays, and The Raptors, and probably The Argos, but otherwise we shall once again stand tall on the world stage.


deb said...

harrowing! A few days ago I went thru something very similar, I woke up to a snowstorm. I fretted the whole day. But then the next it was gone and 2 days later, (today) its 10 degrees and life is back to normal. Snow gone, it was a close call as we almost had a white christmas.
Good luck and have a wonderful Holiday with power!

Rural said...

LOL, I do feel sorry for our city folk when power goes out, after all one can hardly grab a few logs and light a fire on the living room fire! Out here in the boonies of rural Ontario we expect a few of these events each winter and are largely prepared for it, many of us have alternate means of heating and cooking (left over turkey from an early xmas family gathering reheats right nice on the wood stove!) and jugs of water in the basement for emergency's. All I can tell you guys is to figure on more such 'emergencies' as 'climate change' takes hold and 'corporate greed' takes over the hard won struggle to provide 'social services' to the general public (via general taxation and funding) as opposed to 'pay for service' (including emergency services) which increasingly seems to be the norm both in our urban areas and our rural areas.
To those in an apartment with no viable energy sources when power goes out, I do feel for you, may you have someplace to excape that cold apartment.....
PS, If you don't thank those hydro linemen (who have no say on what their bosses earn for sitting at their desks) then you have no idea what they do for you when the crap hits the fan. (or the ice hits the trees n wires)!

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Alison said...

Mike, I know we haven't talked in a long time but when I heard about your terrible ordeal with the shrimp puffs and Knifehead, I just had to drop by to pay my condolences.
Remember the wise words of Fred : That which doesn't kill you makes you stranger.