Toronto Hydro says roughly 6,000 customers have lost power across the city so far due to Hurricane Sandy.
Crews are assessing the damage and trying to make repairs, but if deemed to dangerous, some customers will have to go the night without power, maybe even part of the day tomorrow, spokesperson Jennifer Link told Torstar Media.
Energy Minister Chris Bentley says Ontario’s energy agencies are working to respond to power outages or infrastructure damage that are likely over the next few days.
Southern and eastern Ontario are bracing for potentially damaging winds of up to 100 kilometres per hour and between 30 to 50 millimetres of rain over the next 24 hours.
Some areas could see higher amounts as the super storm passes through, according to the Canadian Hurricane Centre.
The province’s Ornge air ambulance service grounded its helicopters and airplanes in southern Ontario as of 2 p.m. over concerns about high winds, said Community Safety Minister Madeleine Meilleur.
But land ambulances will be available to transport patients if needed, she added.
Emergency Management Ontario is monitoring the situation closely and will be able to jump in to help residents if necessary, she said.
“We’re ready for the red alert,” Meilleur said. “We’re not there, but we get ready for the worst.”
Earlier in the day, the mayor advised Torontonians to take down outdoor Halloween decorations, stay off the roads and brace for power outages as Hurricane Sandy closes in.
Speaking at a press conference Monday afternoon alongside a number of department managers, Mayor Rob Ford said the city is ready for the storm, but residents should also prepare.
“We are expecting very strong winds, in some situations up to 90 km an hour, and some heavy, heavy rainfall. This means there is potential for materials blowing onto the streets, falling tree branches, flooding and power outages,” said Ford. “I’m encouraging all residents to take some simple steps to keep everyone safe and secure.”
How to prepare for Hurricane Sandy:
1. Secure loose items, such as waste bins and Halloween decorations
2. Clear storm sewer grates and catch basins near your home of leaves
3. In case of power outages treat intersections as four-way stops
4. Keep a supply of water, food, flashlights and batteries at home
5. Only drive if you must
If you are in need of assistance — such as fallen branches or flooding — call 311. Extra staff has been in called in to handle increased volume. In case of an actual emergency dial 911.
For hydro outages call 416-542-8000. Toronto Hydro will be posting updates on its website as well as tweeting details @TorontoHydro
Charge cell phones now.
Tens of thousands of homes could lose power during the storm and it could take between a couple of hours to a few days to restore electricity, said Blair Peberdy, a vice president with Toronto Hydro.
Peberdy said that — at least in his memory — Toronto hasn’t been hit with a storm of this magnitude.
“Certainly not in my career if the forecasts are what they say they are. I’ve been with Toronto Hydro for 25, 30 years. So I don’t think we’ve seen one come through as strong as this one,” he said.
There are 32 areas in the city, including parts of North York and Rexdale to areas in Scarborough and the Beach, that are prone to “chronic” basement flooding during intense storms.
“We do expect heavy rainfall but it’s spread out over a number of hours, so the sewer system should be able to keep up with it,” said Lou Di Gironimo , the general manager of Toronto Water. “The problem is if the leaves get into the catch basin and start plugging up some of the storm sewers, you may see localized flooding.”
Several pockets in the city area also at risk of road flooding. The Bayview extension and Hoggs Hollow are the most likely to have a problem. City sweeping crews are working in the area to ensure drainage systems are clear.
Toronto police will be monitoring the situation and closing roads as necessary, said Myles Currie, director of transportation services.