It’s been a wild and nasty weekend here in Ontario, but the freezing rain seems to be tapering off. My Facebook feed is full of “we’ve got no power” posts, though, and hydro crews have warned that many outages will last for days. There are people who’ll be celebrating Christmas this year by candlelight… or in shelters.
But thankfully we’re in good shape at our place — most of Peterborough draws its power from local hydro-electric sources, or from the Lily Lake solar field west of town. We’ve got buried power lines in our neighborhood, and we’ve got a gas fireplace, furnace and stove. Having lived through the ice storm in 1998 those were definitely selling points when we were looking at this house last year.
The Wife™ and I aren’t “preppers” (much less “survivalists”) by any stretch of the imagination, but we do have a common-sense approach to living in Canada in the wintertime: Sometimes weather happens and it takes a while to clean up the complications. So we were reasonable prepared for this kind of situation: I grew up in the country, so when outages occurred they were generally measured in hours if not days; and of course The Wife™ grew up in the Caribbean, and an ice storm generally pales in comparison to, say, a hurricane (although apparently there are parallels to the aftermath.) We’ve got a modest supply of water, preserved food (leftover freeze-dried stuff from last season’s camping and our usual run of canned food), a generous supply of unscented candles (I can’t emphasize unscented enough) and if necessary a camp stove & fuel on hand. Additionally, as soon as it was announced a storm was coming we knew enough to lay in some basics, charge all our devices and fill the tanks of the cars. Had we lost power for days, we would have managed nicely.
Fortunately, however, we only had one short outage — last night, after the worst of the storm had passed (I frankly only noticed it because my CPAP machine turned off and the clicking of the anti-asphyxia valve woke me up.) Not to be smug, but our primary issues over the weekend have been boredom and the inconvenience of not being able to travel — which are exactly the problems you want during a widespread weather crisis. It’s far better to be moderately annoyed at the weather then to be cold and hungry in the dark — a fate that I know some of my friends are suffering at the moment. That’s why we’ve got basics lying around. Heck, it’s why I’ve got a car kit in my trunk.
We’re operating from a position of definite privilege, however. Not only do we have a house, we had the luxury of being able to consider emergency preparedness when we were house-hunting. We’ve got the disposable income to lay in supplies when bad weather is coming. We’ve got the experience and the mindset that allows us to understand that taking the time and effort to be prepared can mean the difference between an inconvenience or an emergency… and between self-reliance or burdening an emergency response system which might already be approaching the point of overload.