How local communities can better prepare for power outages

The weekend ice storm that left thousands across the southwest without power is prompting people to better prepare for emergency situations including outages.

About 25,000 people were without power as of Monday in the southwest

The weekend ice storm left thousands across the southwest without power. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC)

The weekend ice storm that left thousands across the southwest without power is prompting people to better prepare for emergency situations, including outages.

Freezing rain and high winds over the weekend resulted in blackouts across the region including in London, Grand Bend, Parkhill and Dorchester.

North of the city, Lucan-Biddulph town officials set up a warming centre on Monday for people affected by the storm.
Charging station seen inside Lucan-Biddulph's warming centre that was called on after the weekend's ice storm. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC)

Members of the town's emergency preparedness committee exercised an emergency plan for the first time in three years — when Lucan got new offices for town staff.

Mayor Cathy Burghardt-Jesson is already planning ahead.

"We had a new phone system [in our offices] and it's internet-based so we didn't have any phones available [during the outage]," she said. "That is a lesson learned that perhaps we need a good ol' Bell line to help should we have to face this again," she said.

72-hour power outage kit

A snapped tree on the outskirts of Lucan-Biddulph township. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC)

Dozens of town residents visited the warming centre on Monday, including Anna Giannini Ormsby who admits she wasn't prepared for serious weather-related emergencies.

"I don't have candles, I don't have a flashlight, I don't have non-perishable food items and I never thought about it. I kind of took it for granted so this is a lesson very well learned," she said.

"Next time I'll have supplies because you never know when this is going to happen again and you have to be well prepared."

About 25,000 people were without power yesterday morning across the southwest, according to Nancy Clark of Hydro One. That number decreased to about 10,000 by the evening.

She said households and offices should consider keeping a 72-hour power outage kit on hand. Items in the kit should include:

  • Water, two litres per person
  • Canned food
  • Medical items
  • Flashlights
  • Battery operated radio
  • Back-up phone battery
  • Cash

"After a storm like this, we suggest you restock it and include items that you think would've been helpful for you to have," she said.

'Never anything like this'

Candice Neves, 15, was at Lucan-Biddulph's warming centre on Monday. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC)

15-year-old Candice Neves made her way to Lucan's warming centre on Monday to charge her phone.

"I've never had anything like this happen. The most I've had a power outage was two hours … I would definitely always keep my portable charges charged and try not to go over my data plan," she learned.

"I feel like a pioneer."
Jenny Marrinan's power has been out since Sunday. As of Monday, about 25,000 people were without power yesterday across the southwest. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC)

Others including Jenny Marrinan are also taking further steps to ensure preparedness.

"A lot of people I know have gone into London and gone to a hotel so it's really about finding where the power is and riding it out," she said.

"You don't know what it's going to be like but there are always other options."