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Residents coping with blackout caused by transformer vandalism

Cheryl Bauslaugh - Expositor Staff
Brantford Expositor
Local News - Wednesday, May 24, 2006 @ 01:00

[SISIS note: The following mainstream news article is provided for reference only, as an example of how mainstream media treats indigenous resistance to genocide. Mainstream media often presents biased and distorted information, lacking pertinent facts and/or context. Inclusion of this article on our site should not be considered an endorsement by SISIS.]

The Simcoe A&P store was one of the busiest spots in town on Tuesday and not just because shoppers were stocking up on ice, batteries and bottled water.

With power out in Simcoe and some parts of Waterford and Delhi since 3 p.m. Monday, local residents were flocking to the in-store Tim Horton’s kiosk for their morning cup of java.

“We’re the only Tim Horton’s in town that’s open,” said a store employee, who was too busy serving up double-doubles to give her name.

At one point, the lineup of coffee customers extended into the mall, she said. The Port Dover Tim’s also did a brisk business, with customers waiting in line up to 45 minutes for their coffee and doughnut.

Gas was also a hot commodity. By midday, stations in Port Dover and Renton had run out of gas completely and some people were forced to head to Brantford to fill up their tanks. But by midafternoon, two stations in Simcoe the Esso on Norfolk Street South and the Target convenience store had managed to find generators and were back in business.

“I’ve got tons of gas,” said John Young, of Target, who travelled to Hamilton to buy his generator.

“I got the last one,” he said.

He planned to keep the store and pumps open overnight, to sell necessities such as pop, chips, cigarettes and bread. But no ice.

“We’re sold out of ice,” he said.

The Esso station was also looking at extending its hours beyond the usual closing time of 10 p.m.

Attendant Sam Khraim said business was “steady” throughout the afternoon, but most people were just topping up their tank, buying between $10 and $20 worth of gas.

“I think people just wanted to make sure they didn’t run out.”

Most Simcoe businesses remained in darkness Tuesday, including all of the town’s restaurants, fast-food outlets and department stores. Only one drugstore Roulston’s at the Simcoe Mall on Highway 3 was open, although Clark’s Pharmacy at the Whitehorse Mall had a phone number that people could call for emergency prescriptions.

Meanwhile, the town’s schools were also shut down because of the power outage, keeping thousands of students and their teachers home for the day.

Zehrs remained closed but A&P and Sobey’s saw a steady stream of shoppers, stocking up on hotdogs and hamburgers for the barbecue or already-cooked pizzas and roast chickens.

“Our deli counter has been really busy,” said Deb Butler, of Sobey’s. “People are buying things they don’t have to cook, like subs and chickens.

“We really started to get busy in the afternoon, once people realized their power might be out for a couple of days.”

Betty Pearce, of Simcoe, had her cart filled with bottled water, buns, hotdogs and some treats from the bakery department. She said her family really isn’t experiencing any hardship as a result of the blackout, although they made a trip to Brantford earlier in the day to get a coffee and do some shopping.

Generators sell fast

The TSC store at the Whitehorse Mall was also doing a booming business, selling batteries, flashlights and generators.

The store was writing up bills by hand until its own generator was hooked up about 1:30 p.m. But the store remained in darkness, with staff using flashlights to direct customers to the items they needed.

“We sold every generator we had in the store,” said inventory manager Charles Wilson. “It’s been nuts.”

Over at Hal-Nor Tobacco in the Simcoe Mall, there were lineups of 20 to 30 people at a time for milk, batteries, flashlights, ice and water.

“It’s been a steady stream of traffic,” said owner Mark Tylak, who brought in four generators to power up his store.

By 4 p.m. Tuesday, he’d already sold 650 bags of ice to people trying to keep food in their refrigerators and freezers cold. He said many of his customers expressed frustration at the Caledonia dispute that may be linked to the power failure.

“Every person coming in to my store was angry,” he said.

Paul Wanklin, of Simcoe, said it’s time for the government to bring the Caledonia impasse to an end.

“This whole situation should have been resolved months ago,” he said. “I think this will bring it to a head.”

He stocked up his fridge on Saturday and figures he’ll have to throw out at least $100 worth of spoiled food.

“Who’s going to pay for that?” he said. “Should I send the bill to the reserve?”

While Hydro officials had earlier predicted that the power might be out until Thursday, Norfolk Mayor Rita Kalmbach was told late Tuesday that the lights might be on by midnight or early this morning.

“We were told that was a pretty firm date,” said Kalmbach, who met with Norfolk Power officials and senior staff about 4 p.m.

Kalmbach has been fielding calls from upset residents since Monday, including some people who couldn’t get through to MP Diane Finley and MPP Toby Barrett.

“People wanted to vent and their mailboxes were full.”

She said county staff did a good job of handling the situation. Roads staff set up temporary stop signs at all the signalized traffic lights and OPP officers directed traffic at the main intersection of Highway 3 and 24. By about 5 p.m. Tuesday, a generator had been brought in to get the lights working at that intersection again.

“It’s a real safety concern, especially at night,” Kalmbach said.

The county also set up a care centre at the Port Dover Community Centre, where residents without heat or water could come to get warm and enjoy light refreshments.

Kalmbach said the county might have had to declare a state of emergency if the power had remained out much longer.

“”It’s trying for all of us,” she said. “It’s unfortunate that the situation escalated to the point it did.”

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