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Good Samaritan in LaSalle

Canadians had never before endured a natural disaster like the ice storm of 1998. A difficult morning of car scraping quickly turned into a state of emergency from eastern Ontario to southern Quebec. Millions huddled in the dark by their fireplaces. Many suffered from hypothermia and carbon monoxide poisoning. Heavy ice sheets toppled huge power pylons and in just six days an electrical system that took decades to create was razed.

media clip
Giselle Van Lieu whips up dinner by the light of several candles in south central Quebec. She's conserving the hydro grid's volatile energy even though she's one of the few who's had electricity, heat and hot water all week. Van Lieu has set up a makeshift bed and breakfast for 15 people -- family, friends and anyone in need. She cooks, cleans and lodges them all with her own money. There's a big spread of food across the table and she says, "money is there and it's gone but there are other things that are more important."
• This day (Jan. 9, 1998) was the fiercest of the storm. By the day's end, three million people had no power.
• Transportation became nearly impossible. Montreal's Metro was shut down, toppled hydro lines blocked roads and bridges were closed due to falling ice.
• By 3 p.m., filtration plants without generators had only a two-hour supply of treated water left. For the next 48 hours, residents were under a boil-water advisory. Some had no water at all.
Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: Jan. 9, 1998
Guest(s): Giselle Van Lieu
Reporter: Susan Bonner
Duration: 3:11

Last updated: January 18, 2012

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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