Ice storm means extended vacation

It was a matter of being in the right place at the right time. Or in Joan Fenner’s case, being somewhere else at the right time.
The Montreal woman and her two-year-old son, Ian, came to Fort Frances on Jan. 2 to celebrate Ukrainian Christmas with her parents, Nick and Jackie Grynol.
In doing so, the pair missed out on the ice storm that wreaked such havoc in eastern Ontario and Quebec–the aftermath of which is still being felt two weeks later.
The Fenners were slated to fly back to Montreal on Jan. 10. But when they arrived in Winnipeg the day before, they discovered their flight was cancelled.
“On [the] Thursday night, according to my husband [John], from what he could see . . . it looked like things were getting better,” Fenner said from her parents’ home last week.
“He’d said the lights were getting closer and closer. On Thursday night, the lights were only about a block away from our house,” she added.
But conditions there took a turn for the worse on the Friday. So Fenner rescheduled their flight until Jan. 13 because Hydro Quebec figured it would have power back to 80 percent of the homes on the island of Montreal by Sunday.
“We thought that was pretty safe,” she noted, but that turned out to be wrong, too. Her home was still without power Sunday night.
So she postponed her flight again, this time for another week, and was scheduled to fly out of Winnipeg yesterday.
“It worked out well that we were here. We were in an enviable position,” Fenner said, admitting many people tried to get out of the city but couldn’t.
“I can’t imagine what we would’ve been doing [in Montreal].”
Probably, she noted, they would probably be doing the same thing her husband was doing. While power was gone from their home, John Fenner–along with two other neighbours–bunked in with a family across the street that used gas heat.
And by some miracle, other friends hadn’t lost power so all the cooking was done there.
“Plus, we had hot water at our house,” she explained. “So at our house, everyone could get a hot shower, and they had a warm place to sleep at the neighbours’, and they could get hot food at the other friends.”
Fenner said everyone was sharing what they had.
“People really rallied. There’s a real sense of community in Montreal,” she enthused. “And now we have some friends staying at our house because our power is back on and theirs isn’t.”
While she missed the storm, Fenner knew she still would have to deal with its aftermath, including the six inches of ice and broken telephone pole in front of their home, as well as “power rationing.”
“What that means, I won’t find out until I get there,” she added.
But for now, Fenner was just happy she missed out on the worst of it, noting the extended vacation allowed her parents to spend more time with their grandson.
It also gave them a chance to visit her grandmother, who was visiting in Calgary until last week. And she’s been able to get in some cross-country skiing.
“The weather has been great in Fort Frances,” she smiled.