Nova Scotia

Nova Scotians have creative Christmas dinners after mass power outages

A Christmas Day windstorm in Nova Scotia that caused blackouts for about 160,000 households dashed some people's hopes of succulent turkey dinners and other fancy feasts, but it also forced them to be creative and come up with other meal options.

'Christmas dinner was peanut butter and jam sandwiches. And chips,' says Eastern Passage, N.S., resident

The strong winds snapped one of the three cables supporting the Christmas tree at Halifax's Grand Parade, resulting in a tree that is no longer upright. (Richard Woodbury/CBC)

A Christmas Day windstorm in Nova Scotia that caused blackouts for about 160,000 households dashed some people's hopes of succulent turkey dinners and other fancy feasts, but it also forced them to be creative and come up with other meal options.

At the most, 158,000 Nova Scotia Power customers were in the dark, the company said. By Tuesday evening, the number had dropped to about 11,000.

Belinda Dickson and Jeff Matthews had an unexpectedly low-key dinner on Monday evening after they lost power around 4 p.m. AT when their meal was half-cooked.

"Christmas dinner was peanut butter and jam sandwiches. And chips," said Dickson, who lives in Eastern Passage.

"Kind of bland, for Christmas dinner."

Despite the howling winds, Dickson and Matthews spent their evening in their backyard trying to secure their deck and shed with ratchet straps.

Belinda Dickson and Jeff Matthews say their peanut butter and jam sandwich dinner on Christmas Day was 'kind of bland.' (Shaina Luck/CBC)

"It was really scary," Dickson said. "We had to strap her all down and running around out there, things blowing around — it was like a hurricane."

And Nova Scotians certainly know a thing or two about hurricanes.

Memories of Hurricane Juan

On Sept. 29, 2003, Hurricane Juan, a Category 2 storm, brought winds of more than 145 km/h that knocked out power to 300,000 homes and businesses and downed countless trees.

Teresa Yetman, also of Eastern Passage, said the storm was scarier than Hurricane Juan because while she simply slept through that storm, which made landfall after midnight, the winds started earlier in the evening on Christmas Day.

Damaged power lines in Dartmouth, N.S., on Tuesday, a day after a windstorm that knocked out electricity for tens of thousands of Nova Scotia Power customers. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

"The wind was so strong. It was just whipping, and that's all you could hear."

Ultimately, a blanket, a lantern and a good book got Yetman through the night — plus some cuddles from her cat.

'We could see our breath'

At the Ingram house in Eastern Passage, Brandi Ingram spent Christmas night snuggled with her kids to stay warm.

"When we woke up this morning at 6:30 or 7, we knew we were going to have an issue because it was cold," she said.

"We could see our breath, pretty much."

The family of five has been eating at McDonald's and is running a generator to keep their fridge, television and cellphones working.

Christmas dinners disrupted

The disruption wreaked havoc on many residents' Christmas dinners, as most lost power before their turkeys were finished cooking.

Nova Scotians expressed their disappointment — and hunger — on Twitter.

While one person joked she would be eating "turkey tartare," and another said she would simply opt for beer instead, others got resourceful and took their undercooked turkey dinners to a relative's or friend's house that had power. Others finished cooking dinner on the barbecue or wood stove, or fired up their generators.

Leftover macaroni and cheese, raw carrots and Doritos were on the menu for one family, while another posted that they ended up eating Christmas dinner at McDonald's.

Barbecued bird

Denise MacDonell was about two-thirds of the way through cooking a turkey when she lost power in the Clayton Park area of Halifax just after 4 p.m. Her family put the bird on the barbecue to finish the job and then stored it in the cold garage overnight.

But they were still a little leery of eating it. And none of the side dishes were done, either.

Chinese restaurant comes to the rescue

When the family decided that munching on cinnamon rolls wasn't going to get them through the night, they decided to call Zen Chinese Cuisine. The restaurant was closed, but staff were there cooking for a party, so they offered to cook for the MacDonells, too.

"It was very kind of them to do it.… They're just lovely people."

Denise MacDonell's home lost power just after 4 p.m., so her family finished the turkey on the barbecue. (Denise MacDonell)

One chilly night and one cold shower later, the household still didn't have power by late Tuesday morning.

But that didn't seem to bother MacDonell. "Hot water is for sissies," she said.

MacDonell said the family has a wood stove, so they'll make it through until their power comes back on.

She also praised the work of power crews who went to work on Christmas Day and Boxing Day to try to restore electricity.

With files from Shaina Luck