More and more consequences of a prolonged cold spell are affecting Ottawa residents and services, but some relief appears to be in sight.
An Environment Canada wind chill warning was in place for all of eastern Ontario and western Quebec Friday morning, with values that could again make the air feel like –40 C. Environment Canada ended the wind chill warning Friday afternoon.
- Frostbite advisory safety information
- CBC Ottawa weather information
- Visit Ian Black's weather page
- Blizzard barrels toward Atlantic Canada as deep freeze continues
The frostbite advisory does not extend into Saturday when the temperature is expected to rise slightly.
Ottawa’s Saturday forecast shows an expected high of –7 C, with wind chill making it feel as low as –25 C.
Homeless outreach stretching thin
The Shepherds of Good Hope said Thursday many city shelters are at capacity because of the extreme cold.
“There are people that won’t come inside for whatever reason, that’s a problem,” said their assistant manager Steven Macintosh on Thursday.
“It’s our job to try to encourage them to come inside and make it welcome when they do.”
Macintosh said the Salvation Army’s outreach van continues to drive the city with coffee, socks and other items to try and help Ottawa’s homeless population, bringing some to shelters if they want.
Cindy Stewart works for the Salvation Army and said the more common places to check include parking garages, stairwells, bank lobbies and near heating vents.
"I've had clients sleeping outside in the middle of the winter in sleeping bags but in t-shirts, because there's that much heat coming out of (the vents)," she said.
"It's just finding those key spots."
The Salvation Army said their outreach program is on a limited schedule year-round, but it switches to a 24-hour service when extreme cold sets in.
"We expand our hours, we have to bring on new shifts, we're buying gas more... we're out the whole time," said Darren Graham, who runs their outreach program.
"So definitely, it stretches our resources, but we're there to do this service."
Graham said they've already spent their annual budget for cold-weather emergencies, but they're not going to stop their outreach.
He said donations of gloves, hats and scarves would help.
Meanwhile, the Ottawa Mission said in an email they're housing 20-30 more people than normal, which is making it more crowded and uncomfortable.
Attempt to thaw frozen pipes leads to fire
Ottawa fire officials are pointing to the cold as one of the reasons a home in Hintonburg caught fire Thursday night.
They said people living in a two-storey house on Stirling Avenue were trying to thaw frozen pipes when they lit what turned into a second-alarm fire.
No dollar loss figures are available.
The Ottawa Red Cross said they’ve been called to assist 14 families after fires this holiday season, which is seven times more than the same period last year.