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Feature: "Black Christmas" hits Toronto

English.news.cn   2013-12-25 19:27:39            

by Yan Zhonghua, Phoebe Ho

TORONTO, Dec. 25 (Xinhua) -- For people living in the southern areas of Canada, a white Christmas with heavy snowing is all the best they have wished for.

However, they were unexpectedly embraced with a "black Christmas," which was accompanied with massive ice and snow storm, and worst of all, a blackout.

As the power supply was cut off in some parts of Canada's biggest city of Toronto as a result of the storm, families have to live with the power outage.

Adam, who is in his 60s, told Xinhua that he used candles to light up his house and the gas fireplace to keep his family warm to get through the ordeal.

He said that it reminded him of the deadly ice storm in January 1998, but it's still rare to have a Christmas without power.

"It's the first Christmas Eve in the dark in my whole life," Adam said outside his residence in a neighborhood where workers were still trying to bring back power supply.

The Christmas lights, decorated along the streets before Christmas, were unlit. Ice-laden trees, which were toppled by the storm, were seen from place to place.

The storm, dubbed "the nightmare before Christmas," has wreaked havoc on otherwise one of the most joyous holidays.

It's been three days living in darkness for thousands of people in Toronto, as they continued to patiently wait for a flicker of light to return to their homes.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford told reporters that the power outage could last till this weekend for some.

"We'd like to say this will be done tomorrow," Ford said at the city hall Tuesday.

Hydro workers from as far as Michigan and Manitoba have been brought in to help restore power supply as quickly as possible.

Chris, a hydro worker, had to give up his own holiday plans.

"I canceled holiday plans with my girlfriend to work," said Chris, adding that over a hundred hydro workers have been working around the clock since the storm.

According to Toronto Hydro, the outages have reduced from 300, 000 customers at its peak to about 85,000, yet it's still a far cry from the perfect Christmas.

Those who haven't yet seen their electricity resumed were forced to stay in hotels and shelters, and salvage their Christmas plans. For them, staying warm was top priority.

As temperatures continued to dip to the overnight forecast of minus 15 degrees Celsius, an extreme weather alert was issued by the authority.

Two people, a man and his 72-year-old mother, in the east area of Toronto, died of carbon monoxide poisoning Monday from running a gas-powered generator in the garage to help heat the two-story home.

Emergency crews have responded to more than a hundred phone calls related to carbon monoxide exposure, according to local media.

Two women were taken to hospital Tuesday afternoon after exposure to the gas from a charcoal barbecue.

The local government warned residents earlier Tuesday of taking caution when keeping warm, and asked them to refrain from using devices that are designed for outdoor use, particularly barbecues or outdoor generators.

About 774 people spent Monday night at one of the 25 warming centers that have opened up across the city at community centers and police stations, providing those in need a warm place to sleep, eat and rest.

Toronto was not the only one suffering from the massive storm. As a result of the vicious storm, nearly 150,000 residents in southern Ontario, Quebec and the Maritime provinces were still in darkness by early Christmas morning.

Editor: Yamei Wang
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