Hamiltonians coping without heat and power after ice storm

Kathy Hulsman hasn’t had power for two days now, and at this point, she fears for the future of her Christmas turkey.
John McDonald is cleaning up three trees that fell in his yard during the ice storm. The branches damaged his back porch and possibly his roof. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

Kathy Hulsman hasn’t had power for two days now, and at this point, she’s thinking about the turkey.

She bought her Christmas turkey on Saturday. She planned to do all of her Christmas baking on Sunday. Then along came an ice storm overnight Saturday, knocking out power in her Ancaster area of Amberly Boulevard and Fiddlers Green Road. As of Monday morning, it’s still not back.

It’s nature. What are you going to do?- John McDonald, East Mountain resident

Horizon Utilities is scrambling to restore everyone’s power Monday. Hulsman’s main worry is slowly shifting to how she’ll prepare Christmas dinner without electricity.

“My sons said ‘Mom, it’s not the end of the world if we don’t cook a turkey on Christmas day,’” she said. “But frankly, it is. Traditions are important.”

This weekend’s ice storm left about 30,000 Hamiltonians without power, felling trees and weighing down power lines from the east Mountain to Flamborough.

As of Monday morning, Horizon said it had restored power to all but 1,500 residents, and was rushing to finish the job. But some are still in the cold and dark.

Anne Young lives near Fennell Avenue and Upper Sherman and didn’t have power as of Monday morning. She headed to her local church to practise for the Christmas pageant, and get hot coffee.

Price of living in Canada

Young is the type to prepare. Her father was a professor of meteorology at the University of Waterloo, so “I know if it’s a northeast wind coming off the lake, be prepared.” She always keeps five days worth of food in the house and wood for her fireplace.

She was prepared to bundle up under the blankets with her cat on Sunday night. The temperature in her house dropped to 10 C. But Sunday evening, the power blinked on at her son's house on Upper Gage and she went there instead.

“It would’ve been a cold sleep,” she said.

Young wasn’t upset by the outage. “We live in Canada," she said.

Horizon Utilities crews work around Anne Young's home on Fennell Avenue. She hoped that meant power was on the way. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

John McDonald lives at the corner of E. 45th and Lupin Avenue. He didn’t lose power, but three trees fell in his yard, damaging his back deck and possibly his roof. He and his son are spending Monday cutting and stacking the branches.

Kept awake by branches hitting the roof

“I didn’t get much sleep” overnight Saturday, he said. He and his wife listened to the barrage of cracking branches, and the thump of them hitting the house.

“You’d just fall asleep and all the sudden something else would fall and up you’d get again,” he said. “It was a terrible night.”

Like Young, he summed it up to the price of living in Canada.

“It’s nature. What are you going to do?” he said. “It’s Mother Nature’s way of pruning trees.”

The city has set up four shelters. Red Cross volunteers are staffing the North Wentworth Arena, Dundas Lions Memorial Community Centre, Stoney Creek Recreation Centre and Huntington Park Recreation Centre. 

Few more hours before the turkey gets tossed

One person spent the night at Huntington Park, said Keivan Mahboubi, a Red Cross volunteer. With most of the people he had seen so far, “food is not the big issue. Mostly it’s the heat,” he said.

Hulsman is president of Safe Haven Homes, which runs five group homes in Hamilton’s lower city. None of them lost power, she said.

She hopes to return home from work today to find her power restored. She has put all of her Christmas food in the garage refrigerator, which is the coldest spot in the house. She worries for the future of her turkey.

“If we don’t have power tonight, it’ll be done and tossed for sure,” she said.

As for the baking, “it might be baked goods from a store for Christmas rather than the usual stuff made by Mom.”