NEWS
12/24/2013 08:22 EST | Updated 02/23/2014 05:59 EST

Ice storm power outages send many Toronto families to hotels

It’s the day before Christmas and more than 100,000 people in the Greater Toronto Area are still without power, forcing many to make alternative arrangements.

Power is not expected to be fully restored until into the weekend, according to Hydro Toronto.

It’s bad news for Toronto residents, but great business for local hotels — some of which now have long waits and no vacancy signs.

Brian Deville and his wife Janet Eastwood are two of the thousands who will spend their holidays at a Toronto hotel.

Ice knocked out the power in their North York home, forcing them to find other arrangements at the Fairmont Royal York. But despite making those arrangements as soon as they could, they still had to wait due to the large influx of people.

“When we got down here at noon yesterday, it was an over four-hour wait to have a room ready,” Deville said.

But they are lucky to have a room at all.

A hotel spokesperson said that this is typically a slow time of year but because of the weekend’s severe ice storm, the hotel has booked all of its 1,365 rooms.

Sulemaan Ahmed and his family also lost power at their Markham home from the storm and are staying at the Royal York.

Before leaving his home, Ahmed said he did the best he could to secure the contents of his fridge.

“We took a lot of our meats out and put them in buckets or containers and put them outside to keep them cold,” he said.

It isn’t his first time having to deal with the chaos that follows a big ice storm, Ahmed was working in Montreal in 1999 when the massive ice storm there knocked out power for over a million people in eastern Ontario and Quebec.

He says the experience taught him about the hardships that come along with these unexpected weather events, which is why he made sure to take the time and help his neighbours before leaving his home.

“One [neighbour] was going through cancer treatment, so we cleared out the ice and cleaned their driveway," he said.

"But I’m sure our neighbours would do the same for us."

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