Ice storm aftermath: Communication should have been better

As most of Toronto’s power is restored following last week’s ice storm, questions are now being raised as to what was done properly and what was not in terms of response.

'People felt abandoned' during massive power outages

Many struggled to find information that could have helped them better prepare during the ice storm and subsequent power outages, some councillors say. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

As most of Toronto’s power is restored following last week’s ice storm, questions are now being raised as to what was done properly and what was not in terms of response.

Coun. Glenn De Baeremaeker told Metro Morning on Monday that his neighbourhoods were among some of the last to see power Thursday night during the “immensely frustrating week” and that a lack of communication only made things worse.

“People felt abandoned,” De Baeremaeker said, adding that there could have been a better on-ground presence of city workers available to provide information.

"There's a lot of anger out there ... people weren't able to make good decisions because they didn't have more information."

Not enough information available 

Communication, or a lack thereof, is expected to come up at a special ice storm-related council meeting on Jan, 10. The mayor called the meeting, but Coun. Josh Matlow was the first to ask for it, hoping council will request compensation from the provincial government through its Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program.

The meeting will be the first step in setting up a relief committee to review claims from residents for everything from stoves, fridges and heaters that were destroyed due to the ice storm.

Matlow also reiterated that a lack of available information and communication was a huge problem.

He said residents reported calling Toronto Hydro, waiting on the phone for upwards of two hours only to be told that power had been restored to their area, as they sat in the dark.

"There should have been more direct information provided to neighbourhoods," he said.

Some progress

As of Monday morning, about 725 customers were left without electricity, but Mayor Rob Ford said all power should be restored within the day.

The mayor and CEO of Toronto Hydro, Anthony Haines, spoke Monday at what was the final news conference on the topic. Haines praised crews who worked around the clock to restore power. He also commended residents for their patience as they waited — often in cold, dark buildings — for power to be restored.

The price tag for the cleanup and restoration will likely be between $8 and $10 million — approximately $1 million for each day during the power outages, according to Ford.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said that after all power is restored and it’s business as usual in the city, a debriefing on what was and wasn’t done efficiently will be required.

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