Frequently Asked Questions
One word: frustration. My husband and I have been among the more fortunate Montrealers. We live downtown and were among the last people to completely lose our power and among the first to get it back. Our heating it not entirely reliant on electricity, so we went only one day without heat. Yes, we keep going through periods without running water. We've also had some shorter periods without use of our phone. However, we've been lucky that for the most part our physical suffering was limited. Sure our life is far from being back to normal. We cannot leave our home due to regulations. We have little contact with the outside world aside from local media and the Internet.
When I started work on this site, there were over 940,000 homes in the area still without power. Many of these homes have been without power, heat and water for 7 days now.
I wanted to do something to try and help the community and given the number of contacts I have on the Internet, I thought that I could help bring Montreal to the rest of the world. Share our plight and hope that some of you are able to help us out... or at least keep us in your thoughts.
Monday, January 3rd.
Some say it is due to Global Warming. Others say that it is El Nino - a warm air mass that moved in from the Gulf of Mexico. A few are crediting it to the start of Armagedon - and that it is a taste of what is to come.
Essentially what happened is that the air above the earth was warm. Too warm for precipitation to be snow. Instead, it rained. However, the temperature at the surface was colder so the rain would freeze as it was falling.
What resulted was a massive build up of ice on trees, poles, power lines, etc. Some early reports have said that many trees held as much as 2 tons of ice! Branches started to fall from trees breaking power lines, destroying cars, houses and much more. Poles and towers have collapsed like dominos. Others broke like twigs.
With 4 consecutive days of freezing rain, the cumulative results were horrible. Damages increased considerably over time.
At the peak of electrical outages, over 1.4 million homes in the Montreal area had no power. As of Sunday evening, the number was down to over 900,000. As of Monday morning, it was down to 655,000.
The temperature was hovering around the 0 degree mark for the first part of the ice storm. Saturday night showed the start of a cold front. With many people relying on electricity for heating, a good many of the people without power have no heat either.
Water was entirely cut off for most of the Montreal area for quite some time on Friday. Overall it has been intermittent for most people. Part of the problem is that the city relies on electricity for pumping the water and for pressure. We had a boil alert Saturday and Sunday. Of course, in many areas, they have been without running water for quite some time. Hot water? Unless you have electricity, forget it.
We've had intermittent problems with phone service as well. Some people are entirely without any phones.
Over the time from when the storm started on Monday until Friday, more and more people lost electricity. We're seeing that the number of people requiring shelters has been growing. There are literally hundreds of shelters set up throughout the Montreal area. We hear of other cases where there are 20, 30 or more people in one home.
All four transmission towers for one of our radio stations went down.
Hospitals are in sad situations. The number of people involved in accidents, suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning, etc has been high. They have, for the most part, been operating on generators. At least one hospital has made appeals for volunteers to help with staffing.
Many supplies are difficult to obtain.As we get further into the strike, perishable goods are becoming more difficult to find. We had difficulties finding bottled water with the boil alert.
Even if your power returns, it hasn't meant it is back for good.
Close to 10,000 troops have been deployed to help. Crews have come in from Connecticut and Vermont to help with restoring electricity.
There have been many different rumours circulating about the estimated damages, that the insurance industry will collapse and that no claims can be made. There's a great article that provides some information on this subject at http://www.canoe.ca/CNEWSIceStorm/jan9_insurance.html
Don't worry if you've tried to call your family or friends in Montreal and have not received an answer! Many tens of thousands of people are in shelters right now or are staying with friends. In areas without electricity, the army and police have been checking in on homes to make sure that people are okay. There is no easy way to get in touch with someone if they are not at home. You might want to try other family members to see if any of them know.
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