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Restoring power for some in Toronto may take until Thursday

Hurricane Sandy, one of the largest storms in U.S. history, made its way north to Ontario Monday and into Tuesday – although it was a much tamer experience than what was experienced south of the border.

Still, a mix of rain and strong winds across the greater Toronto area forecast to gust as high as 100 km/h left thousands without power and brought down large trees.

Environment Canada ended the wind warning for the GTA, including Toronto, around 6 a.m. Tuesday, but Sarnia and Lambton were still under the weather alert. A flood watch issued by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority will remain in effect until the end of the day on Tuesday.

In Toronto’s west end, a woman was killed by sign debris that came loose in powerful winds. Police confirmed with CityNews that the woman, believed to be in her 30s, died after part of a Staples sign near Keele and St. Clair fell on her head. Read more here.

At last check, Toronto Hydro reported blackouts in pockets across the city affecting 4,500 customers, down from an earlier figure of 55,000 (see outages here).

Some people won’t see their power restored until Wednesday and possibly until Thursday, a Toronto Hydro representative warned.

“It could be at least a day to get power back up and running,” Christina Basil said on Breakfast Television Tuesday.

Shortly before 6 p.m. Tuesday, Toronto Hydro tweeted that prolonged outages of at least an additional 4-6 more hours are expected in the following seven areas:

  • The Kingsway S to Dundas St.W., Kipling Ave. E to Royal York Rd. Expect at least 4-6 more hrs w/o power
  • Sheppard Ave. S to York Mills Rd., Yonge St. E to Bayview Ave. Expect at least 4-6 more hrs w/o power
  • Finch Ave. W. S to Churchill Ave., Bathurst St. E to Yonge St. Expect at least 4-6 more hrs w/o power
  • Humberside Ave. S to Indian Rd. Cres., Indian Rd. E to Dundas St. W. Expect at least 4-6 more hrs w/o power
  • Dundas St. W. S to Bloor St. W., Quebec Ave. to Dundas St. W. Expect at least 4-6 more hrs w/o power
  • Lawrence Ave. S to Eglinton Ave., Bayview Ave. E to Leslie St. Expect at least 4-6 more hrs w/o power
  • Lawrence Ave. S to Eglinton Ave., Jane St. E to Dufferin St. Expect at least 4-6 more hrs w/o power
  • Energy minister Chris Bentley said said 113,000 customers were in the dark across Ontario.

“As of 4:30 this afternoon, hydro crews have restored power for 113,000 customers hit at the peak of the storm, and are working to turn the lights back on for the remaining 37,000 customers still without power,” Bentley said.

The hardest-hit Ontario communities include Toronto, Waterloo, Peterborough, Owen Sound and Sarnia, he added.

Toronto Fire Captain David Eckerman says there were 132 calls for “wires down” between 2:30 p.m. Monday afternoon to 6:30 a.m. Tuesday morning

There were 11 elevator rescues in same time frame.

Eckerman said residents should stay far away from fallen wires.

“If there are wires down, we want you one and a half times away from that area as the span from one pole to the other where the wires are down,” he said.

On Ontario Street, just south of Bloor, the storm knocked down one of two cast-iron chimneys on an apartment building. Toronto Fire confirmed the chimney is in danger of falling off of the roof. 

Near Eglinton Avenue and Caledonia Road, downed wires caused a number of transformers in the area to explode, causing some power outages and some fire damage to a nearby autoshop. Police closed Eglinton from Venn Crescent to Blackthorn Avenue to as they worked to clear the damage.

The damage was barely felt in Niagara Falls: Police had only received about 25 calls for damage, including downed power lines, fallen trees and wind damage.

Sandy’s effects along the U.S. east coast were far more significant.

The storm made landfall in New Jersey near Atlantic City Monday night just after 8 p.m. and began a menacing march up the coast. Thousands of people from Maryland to Connecticut were ordered to leave low-lying coastal areas, including 375,000 in lower Manhattan and other parts of New York City, 50,000 in Delaware and 30,000 in Atlantic City, NJ — where the city’s 12 casinos shut down for only the fourth time ever.

With stinging rain and gusts of more 135 km/h, the sea surged a record of nearly four metres at the foot of Manhattan, flooding the financial district and subway tunnels. Storm damage was projected at $10 billion to $20 billion, meaning it could prove to be one of the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history

In addition to the death in Toronto, at last check, Sandy had been blamed for at least 26 deaths along the east coast, according to CNN, and at least 60 deaths in the Caribbean.

U.S. President Barack Obama declared states of emergencies in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania on Monday.

American financial markets, including the New York Stock Exchange, Nasdaq and CME Group in Chicago, were closed Monday. The NYSE will remain closed on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the City of Toronto added extra staff to work the 311 information service and Mayor Rob Ford said residents shouldn’t hesitate to call to report fallen trees or other incidents.

For power outages, call 416-542-8000.

For fallen trees and storm and sewer backups call the city’s 311.

Chief Bill Blair assured Torontonians that police, in conjunction with other emergency services, would be able to handle whatever Sandy throws our way.

“We are always concerned about trees toppling, or even sometimes glass falls and so we will be there to respond to that and keep the situation safe for everyone,” he told CityNews.

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said in a statement that the military and the Canadian Coast Guard are on standby and Health Canada is conducting generator checks and has reviewed the National Emergency Stockpile.

The stockpile, maintained by the Public Health Agency of Canada, contains supplies such as beds, blankets and antibiotics.

John Byrne, the director general of disaster management for the Red Cross, said the organization had 550 volunteers on standby in Ontario and the Atlantic provinces.

The Red Cross also issued a statement reminding of the importance of having emergency supplies, including water, non-perishable food, flashlights and a first-aid kit, to last for 72 hours.

Click here for a list of things you should include in an emergency kit.

The fierce forecast also scuttled travel plans, with Porter Airlines cancelling all flights in and out of Toronto through noon Tuesday and Pearson asking travellers to check their flight status before heading to the airport.

Air Canada has cancelled all flights to the U.S. northe
ast for Monday and Tuesday.

Click here
to check Pearson’s arrivals and departures. Click here for to check the status of flights from Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport.

Amid all the storm doom and gloom, there was a glimmer of good news:  the weather in the GTA is expected to calm down by Halloween Wednesday.

With reports from The Canadian Press