Friday, January 16, 2009


Last night at 10pm all the lights suddenly went out. Looked out the window and the street was dark, it wasn't just us! After groping around in the dark for a few minutes looking for flashlights and candles, we all decided it was bedtime. From my bedroom window I could see some lights on in an apartment building on the other side of the train tracks, and the CN Tower still lit up. So it wasn't the whole city, just our neighbourhood, but I couldn't see how far it extended.

I kept waking up in the night expecting to see my clock radio flashing at me, but no. Fortunately I had piles of duvets on the bed so under the covers it was warm, but by morning the temperature was 12C not just in my bedroom, but in the entire house. Using my headlamp I got up to make porridge and tea (thank goodness for a gas stove!) and then went downstairs to commiserate with the rest of the household.

Phelan has been sick since yesterday with stomach flu, he's still sick and completely miserable. He refuses to wear warm clothes and cries for food which we have to refuse because he just throws it back up. Isaac manages to get internet service on his iPod Touch, sufficient to know that this blackout is serious and widespread.

Gretel gets on her cell phone (once again, having no landline, only VOIP, we are handicapped as far as phone service is concerned) and calls a friend outside the affected area to see if she can take the kids there for the day. On the radio they are saying service may not be back for up to another 24 hours, and this is one of the coldest days so far, -30C with wind chill!

Phelan being sick is a problem, we know he his pretty contagious and don't really want to expose other people's kids to him, but what else is there to do?

Even Dobby is feeling the cold, we are all huddled on the couch, Phelan in Gretel's lap, Tristan in Isaac's lap and Dobby in mine. We are planning for the day, getting the kids someplace warm and leaving taps dripping to prevent pipes from freezing. School and daycare are of course closed, they will have no heat until the power is back.

It feels very strange, very isolating, having no idea what is going on, no access to the internet or radio or TV. Our cell phone batteries are not well charged, we are trying to be careful using them. I manage to find enough batteries to power one radio, the radios here sure need a lot of batteries! Our sole source of heat is two candles. We can't use the gas stoves because they have some safety mechanism that prevents you from lighting the oven without electricity. The gas furnace won't work without the electric fans. We can however use the stove burners to make coffee, tea and porridge.

Gretel calls the daughter of Ross, the older single man across the street, to find out if she has checked on him. Turns out she took him to her home last night before the power outage, and she lives outside the affected area.

While Gretel is talking to her, the lights flick on and the furnace starts up. Yippee, power!

In another hour or two, I'll take off the gloves and hat, the house is slowly getting back up to warm.

The mayor has been on the radio telling people what to do, there are warming stations set up in the affected area. Turn the tap on! Check on your neighbours, especially seniors and the health-challenged! Move your cars off main streets! Go someplace warm!

Around 100,000 people have had their power cut, and Ontario Hydro is gradually restoring service. We were among the lucky 11,000 who got power back before 9.00am. The problem was caused by flooding of a power station at Dufferin and Bloor, they must have been working on the problem all night. The subway could run, but it couldn't stop in our area, it just ran right through to the other side. Streetcars couldn't run at all, they had shuttle buses instead. The affected area is from somewhere west of High Park to east of Spadina, and from St. Clair in the north to Queen in the south. The Bloor subway won't stop between Jane and St. George. That's a long way!


Anonymous said...

Brrrrrrrrrr, indeed! Goodness gracious, not a good time for the power to go out with the weather so very cold. Cheers that it's back on now!

You do paint a funny word picture about all of you sharing warmth together on the couch!

Hope Phelan feels lots better soon. Can he keep Jello or mashed potatoes down? One of those electrolyte drinks would be ideal since they're bound to be out of whack with the repeated vomiting.

Stay cozy! Hugs - :D

Zabetha said...

I think he's improving but his parents are being cautious. In the past P has kept vomiting for weeks because we weren't strict enough!

This sure makes you aware of how vulnerable we are with modern "conveniences"! If the power had not come on when it did, we would have had to seek shelter elsewhere, and with 100,000 (just a fraction of the entire City) people involved, that's a lot of "shelter elsewhere"!

Snowbrush said...

Yikes, way below freezing cold, short days, power outages, everyone sick and you not up to snuff either--yeah, I can see being too bummed to write much.

Zabetha said...

Hi Snowbrush, the freezing cold and short days are good reasons to stay indoors (and write, ha ha), but being sick is definitely not inspiring. All I can say is, this being sick thing better end with the winter, 'cause I got plans for the summer! Thanks for dropping by...