Great Ottawa Power Outage of 2018

On Friday, the winds were picking up, and we got an emergency alert on our phones for a tornado warning in the area. At around 3:30 pm we lost power, which stopped my ability to get anything done on the computer for the day.

At around 5 we had a short reprieve and the power came back online, I quickly attempted to put some supper in the oven, but before the oven finished pre-heating, it had gone out again and this time for good.

With patchy information coming in as the damage was being assessed we learned that there were a lot of downed powerlines, and that one of the bigger power sub-stations was severely damaged. It didn’t sound likely that we would get the power back on before Saturday.

So we made the most of the situation by getting the flashlights going, building a fort and playing cards. I had the quietest and most peaceful sleep that night since the neighbours AC units finally took a break.

On Saturday, it was beautiful out, blue skys, warm air, it was the last day of summer we are likely to get this year. Nobody had power and so the neighbourhood remained very quiet all day.

Eventually we got word that the damage at the sub-station was disastrous and it would take many days to fix. And looking at the situation with a longer term view made us re-assess and try to consume the food in our refridgerator/freezer quickly.

By Sunday, things were starting to come back online in other parts of the city, but people were adjusting to the no TV situation. There were more kids outside biking around and playing at the parks than usual. Without access to Netflix it seems like there is new life in the neighbourhood. Heather’s Army Run still went ahead.

Thankfully, we got our power back on at around 10:30pm on Sunday night. Over 48 hours without electricity.

We were mostly well prepared for this kind of scenario. Camping equipment helped with brewing coffee and the BBQ still worked perfectly for cooking. Water supply wasn’t affected so we didn’t have to break out the bottled water.

The cellphone network was problematic for doing anything. Towers were overloaded and connections were very flakey. As the main source of up-to-date information it turned out to be unreliable. The one piece of emergency equipment I will be adding to my stash is a decent radio.

Also, it made me think about the possibility of being able to be off-grid. Even a small solar panel would have paid for itself if it was enough to keep the refrigerator cold.

The  experience was a reminder of the fragility of our environment and the compassion of people.