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Christmas on ice: Readers share their experiences

Pradeep Parbhudial clears fallen tree limbs from his home in Brampton, foaice storm which knocked out power to thousands of homes.

Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

Prior to the outage, fences separated houses from one another. You stay on your side, and I'll stay on mine; this was reality. People worked for themselves and generally did nothing for their neighbours. The storm symbolically destroyed fences in a way. There suddenly were no boundaries. We were in this together. People went around after the damage was done and offered a helping hand to clear yards of the numerous big branches. The elderly folks were getting knocks on their door checking if everything was okay and if they needed anything. After the majority got power and my house was still left with nothing, our neighbour even brought us some hot food and another thoughtful neighbour let us borrow their generator so we could finally get a bit of heat going. This storm taught me it's the little things that count in life. You can't put a price tag on random acts of kindness. Katarina Puljak, Brampton, Ont.

The power was out. No lights, no heat and no stove. The house became the fridge and the deck became the freezer. We moved food from the freezer outdoors in cooler boxes. We used a small camping gas stove very sparingly, only to heat water for tea and coffee, and soup. We used MEC headlamps to see things when it was dark inside. We did have hot water as our water heater is gas and does not need any other power. If it had not been for this, we would have had to leave the house. The temp in the centre of the house fell to about 1 degree. We stayed to use the hot water from the water heater; we filled containers with hot water and placed them near these pipes to stop freezing and burst pipes. My husband got up in the middle of the night to refill the containers with hot water. For our family dinner on Dec. 25, we were not sure if the power would came back on making it possible to have the dinner here as planned. On Dec. 24, we bought all the ingredients for the dinner, and used the deck to keep them cold. But on Christmas Day still no power so we took it to my son's place and cooked it all there before returning to the frigid house to sleep. I took three hot water bottles to bed each night to keep my toes warm. After 105 hours the power came back on. Hallelujah! Liz Schumann, Scarborough, Ont.

The ice storm was a powerful reminder that we live in community with others and our reliance on each other is a blessing. We live in the country amidst many trees and had substantial damage to our property – although, thankfully, no trees hit the house. We lost power for six days and during that time both friends and neighbours were the key to us keeping the house from freezing and being able to get off of our property. In some cases, it was friends on the spot with generators, chainsaws, knowledge of plumbing or electricity that were of incredible help. Friends opened their homes for us to stay and be very well fed. The hydro workers did heroic work amidst difficult and dangerous conditions. In the end, relationships were strengthened and new friends made. To sum it up: a blessing in disguise. Ross Reimer, Milton, Ont.

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We were supposed to go to St. Louis for Christmas with my sisters, our families and my father flying in from Sydney, N.S. Everyone was excited as this was perhaps the last Christmas before the grandkids begin to go their separate ways. Our travel was saved as our electrician came in to repair the extensive damage. The electrical company came to cut us off, but could not predict when they would come back to turn it back on. We would have to stay home and skip our trip to St. Louis. Steve, the electrician, was working. He said to give him a house key and go on our trip. He would repair the damage and return the next day to turn the power back on. Without his help and volunteering to keep an eye on the house and restore our power, the family Christmas would not have happened. Thank you very much, Steve, for your kindness and thoughtfulness in our time of need. Grant Elliott, Cobourg, Ont.

My power was out for five days. Our house went below zero and I basically spent my Christmas driving to and from our house checking to see if the power might have come back on. It was the worst Christmas ever. We had no information about when power would be restored, no communication from Toronto Hydro nor the City of Toronto. The Toronto website is useless and there was no other reporting or information from them. I did not see any hydro vehicles at all for five days and we were just left in the dark. The management of this ice storm to me seemed very poor and very slow. Toronto is lucky it was not colder or a worse storm. Todd Bozohora, Toronto

My fabulous neighbour Patrick helped me to fix my garage door when the power came on. My neighbour down the road called to check on me when her power came back, and a neighbour's son helped me salt my ice rink of a driveway. J. Noor, Etobicoke, Ont.

Calvin Tran, 19, said the power outage that swept across the city left his Scarborough house without power for almost a week. His family tried to tough it out but the house's temperature was dropping too quickly. Mr. Tran stayed with his girlfriend and his family stayed at his aunt's condominium. But on Christmas Eve, his uncle, who is also his neighbour, was able to borrow a generator and shared it with Mr. Tran's family and another relative that also lives close by. Mr. Tran described the warming of the home as a "team effort" between the dads of the households. "They stayed home and took care of the house, he said. "The dads did most of the work." As told to Kaitlyn McGrath

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