Esther Lockhart is trying to make the best of a bad situation. With the exception of a ten second tease, she's been without power since Friday's storm tore through Hamilton.

"You kind of try to look at it as an adventure," she said. "It's kind of been like camping and having a really awesome trailer."

While she and her family have been trying to make the most of their situation, businesses in the city that deal with storm aftermath have been scrambling to service customers. Electricians and tree services report being the busiest ever after a storm.

The trouble started for the Lockharts Friday night, when a giant tree came down and damaged the power line going to her home on Sanford Avenue South. She, her husband, her brother and her three kids have been spending nights in the dark ever since.

They spent one day with the fridge shut tight, trying to save what food they could. When it became clear they wouldn't be blessed with power anytime soon, they switched gears and devoured whatever they could.

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Lockhart (left) and her mother. (Supplied)

Their neighbours on one side have since gotten power back. "They threw us a lifeline and we used an extension cord to plug in the fridge." Her other neighbours haven't been so lucky. "I see them out every morning making coffee on the Coleman stove."

It wasn't so bad when the whole neighbourhood was out. "When everybody's power was off, everyone was in the streets talking to each other," she said. "Now, we're kind of isolated."

But her family is still getting by. "There's a lot more sitting around talking to each other," she said. "We hang out and try not to annoy each other."

Since Friday, it has been a lot of back and forth. Different crews from Horizon have been out to cut the line, and then to tell her she needed to fix the stack on the house before the power can be restored. Their house has been seen by an electrician and deemed ready to go since Monday.

"It is expected that most remaining customers will have power restored on Tuesday," a statement from Horizon reads. "We will continue to update customers as new information becomes available."

That suits Lockhart just fine. "There are things that you miss, like the light in the bathroom. That's getting to be a pain."

As of 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Horizon said it had restored power to all but 10 of the 20,000 residents who lost it during the storm.

'People were calling frantically'

Crews have been busy throughout the city cleaning up damage from the storm that brought wind gusts up to 106 km/h and 45 millilitres of rain. Local electricians Hank's and Son Electric have been extremely busy, said owner Hank Holzel.

In the first two days after the storm, Holzel's crew went out on 17 calls - when they'd usually get three or four after a usual storm, he told CBC Hamilton.

"That's a record," he said. "We've been in business for 45 years and we've never had that many all at once.

"People were calling frantically. We're even running out of material."

It was the same story over at Davey Hamilton Tree Service and Professional Arborists. Spokesperson Shawn Nixon told CBC Hamilton that their volume of broken tree removal has increased "tenfold."

While the company would usually deal with 50 calls after a storm, they've been dealing with over 200 a day, Nixon says. People should expect cleanup to continue all week, he says.

"It has been crazy," he said. "Damage wise, across the board it's the biggest storm I've seen in my career."

Here's a list of "next steps" from the city for residents who are dealing with storm damage:

  • Waste Collection:

A reminder that garbage quantity limits will be waived through to Monday, July 29 (inclusive) and then reassessed on Monday. Transfer stations and Community Recycling Centres (for large bulk item drop off and leaf and yard waste recycling) will also be waived until the end of day on Saturday, July 27.

  • Tree Debris:  All tree debris will be picked up.

Tree branches can be set out for curbside collection. Where and if possible residents are encouraged to bundle and pile branches (maximum 4 feet in length) in order to receive collection on your regular scheduled collection day. Standard waste collection vehicles cannot accommodate items larger than 4 feet high, therefore, additional crews will be sent out for branches and storm debris that cannot fit. 

Please be advised that if branches and other storm debris do not get picked up on the regular collection day, crews will be working throughout this week and next to pick up any remaining debris. 

  • Senior and resident supports:

Seniors and residents with no insurance or supports can call the City of Hamilton at 905-546-3057 for assistance with, and assessment of, storm clean-up needs. 

As well, in the wake of Friday night's storm, the City of Hamilton will also be providing eligible households in need who lost food due to the power outage with grocery store gift cards starting today at 2:00 p.m. The gift cards will be made available at four (4) local food banks during the food banks' regular hours of operation: Neighbour to Neighbour, Good Shepherd, St. Matthews House and Salvation Army.

Eligibility is based on the LICO (Low Income Cut-Off) and applicants must provide their name, address, source of income, family size and proof of income level with a social assistance stub, pay stub or pension stub. Eligible single people will receive a $50 gift card, eligible couples a $75 gift card, and eligible families of three or more household members a $100 gift card.

Neighbour to Neighbour, 28 Athens St., Hamilton Monday–Thursday

  • 9:30 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. 1:00 p.m. - 3:15 p.m. 

The Good Shepherd Centre, 135 Mary St., Hamilton Monday–Friday

  • 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.

St. Matthews House, 414 Barton St. E., Hamilton Monday–Friday

  • 9:00 a.m. - 11:30 p.m. 1:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Salvation Army Community and Family Services, 80 Bay St. N., Hamilton Monday–Friday

  • 9:30 a.m. - 11:30 p.m. 1:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.

 

  • Hydro/Electrical Outages:

We are encouraging residents to contact their hydro provider (i.e. Horizon Utilities, Hydro One) if they are experiencing problems with power or require updates. 

  • Green carts:

As a result of the storm and hydro disruptions over the weekend, residents may place damaged food waste (i.e. meat, vegetables etc.) in their green carts with packaging removed for pick up on their regularly scheduled day.

  • Damage to Privately Owned Trees:

Damage to private trees is the responsibility of the property owner and use of qualified contractors for clean-up work is recommended for safety and insurance reasons. 

  • General Updates:

All updates will be posted to www.hamilton.ca and through the @CityofHamilton Twitter account. If you have any questions, please call the Contact Centre at 905-546-CITY (2489).