Crews work through Christmas snowfall to restore power in Toronto
Published Wednesday, December 25, 2013 11:09AM EST
Last Updated Thursday, December 26, 2013 1:46AM EST
Days after a crippling ice storm left tens of thousands of people without power in southern Ontario, a fresh coat of snow is expected to blanket Toronto over the next couple of days. That could possibly hamper clean-up efforts as hydro crews continue to work around the clock to restore power.
Environment Canada expects up to two centimetres of snow to fall on Wednesday night as temperatures dip to -4 C. On Boxing Day, between two and four centimetres of snow is expected to fall during the day, with temperatures reaching a high of -1 C.
Toronto Hydro tweeted Wednesday evening that power had been restored to 230,200 customers across the city. Approximately 69,800 customers remain without power.
During a news conference earlier in the day, Toronto Hydro CEO Anthony Haines said he did not have a "firm estimate" as to when full power will be restored across the city but said crews "will not stop until the work is done."
"We are planning our work schedule through until the 29th but that continues to be an estimate," he told reporters late Wednesday morning.
Haines said most of the remaining outages are on the east end of Toronto along the Bayview Avenue and Leslie Street corridor.
Haines said crews have started the next phase of power restoration and that all of the main power feeders have been fully energized.
"We’ve started our program of going door-to-door…which will be the toughest part. We will literally be having one truck to one house and moving on to the next house so I’m expecting the progress to be slow at this point."
At the height of the ice storm, over 600,000 customers in Ontario were without power.
Power outages by the number:
Hydro One: 21,000
Toronto Hydro: 72,000
- Brampton (Hydro One Brampton): 1,400 customers
- Halton Hills Hydro: 2,500 customers
- York Region (Power Stream): 7,000 customers
- Durham Region (Veridian): 4,000 customers
- Milton Hydro: 1,000 customers
- Oshawa PUC: 2,000 customers
Updates on power outages caused by the ice storm can found on local utility websites or on the government of Ontario website.
On Wednesday, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford said tree debris clean-up will begin on Friday and is expected take between four and six weeks to complete.
"We have a fantastic team here giving up their holidays," Ford said, adding that crews have been making steady progress since the ice storm knocked out trees and power lines.
He reiterated that the city does not need to declare a state of emergency and that doing so would only put people in a state of panic. “We’re not even close to a state of emergency,” he said. "We have made progress if you look at the numbers."
Since the ice storm hit Toronto over the weekend:
- Approximately 9,665 fire trucks have been deployed
- EMS has responded to approximately 5,000 calls
- Approximately 200 traffic signals across the city are still down
During a Wednesday news conference, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne told reporters that provincial resources are available and are being mobilized in affected municipalities across the province, including Toronto, even without a formal declaration of an emergency.
"I have made it very clear that all the resources that can be made available by the province have been made available to municipalities," Wynne said.
She said power to her home was recently restored after three nights without heat.
"I know how difficult it is when you’re going into the third and fourth night. There were a lot of candles on."
On Monday, crews had restored nearly all public transit routes to full service, with some TTC buses still on diversion due to downed trees and power lines. However, the TTC’s Sheppard subway line took longer to get back online and full service was restored shortly before 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Though Toronto has cancelled an extreme cold weather alert issued Tuesday, cold temperatures persist and winds are expected throughout Christmas Day. Concern remains for those Toronto residents who are still without heat and hot water.
Toronto residents without power are being urged to visit one of the warming stations in the city instead. The city opened additional stations on Tuesday to accommodate residents in need.
Authorities continue to urge residents trying to stay warm not to use appliances such as generators or barbecues indoors.
A mother and son from Newcastle, 80 km east of Toronto, died Monday from carbon monoxide poisoning, after they tried to heat their home using a generator that was running in the garage.
Two adults and two children were taken to hospital Wednesday morning to be treated for carbon monoxide poisoning after reportedly burning coal in an east Toronto apartment.
Authorities say there has been a dramatic increase in calls for possible carbon monoxide poisoning as they respond to 110 calls in a 24-hour period. Officials said Tuesday they typically receive 20 such calls a day.