Power outage forces some businesses to get creative, while others have to 'start from scratch'

·3 min read
Mateo Cherkaoui from Sir Vape A Lot says it's been a nightmare to try and stay open.  (Natalia Goodwin/CBC  - image credit)
Mateo Cherkaoui from Sir Vape A Lot says it's been a nightmare to try and stay open. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC - image credit)

It's been a long, dark 10 days for many in Ottawa, including business owners trying to stay open.

As of Tuesday morning, Hydro Ottawa said about 3,500 customers were still without power, and the outage map reported some residents in the city may not be restored until this coming Friday.

"It's been a nightmare non-stop," said Mateo Cherkaoui from the vape shop, Sir Vape A Lot, as he stood outside the company's location on Merivale Road near Meadowlands Drive.

"We did lose power at two other locations. This was the only one that hasn't come back yet, and it's literally just been a struggle non-stop, trying to keep it open."

Natalia Goodwin/CBC
Natalia Goodwin/CBC

The store was still dark Monday afternoon, but customers kept flowing in because the business has used car batteries, generators powering its routers, the fire alarm, and open sign, said Cherkaoui.

"Just so that people actually know we're open. And then we just did a little tweaking — hand-made signs just to make sure it's visible from the street," he said.

Cherkaoui said they eventually transitioned to using the car batteries more because it cost about $50 per day to run the generator.

Just down the row in the same mall, Vivian Flowers has empty fridges currently dormant.

Owner Vivian Do has to pick up fresh goods from her supplier each day, bring them back to her shop to assemble, and deliver them herself. This is also one of the busiest times of the year — it's prom season.

"It's been really hard. Last week I have a prom, and some of them they cancel and some of them they still keep order. And I've been working in a dark place and making corsages — not easy," she said

"Every day I hope that the power [goes] on …a lot of business around here they have the same problem so I feel bad for all the business on Merivale."

Natalia Goodwin/CBC
Natalia Goodwin/CBC

Slower path forward for some

Even after power has returned, the road to reopen isn't easy for some businesses.

That's the case at the two locations of Host India restaurant. Power was gone for two days at the Gloucester location, and the Montreal Road spot had to manage for nine days until the lights came back on Sunday night.

It will still take at least three days to get up and running again, though.

"It's like opening a new restaurant. It's starting from scratch," owner Ravinder Tumber told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning.

He has to re-supply the entire restaurants including meats and produce, then preparing food from cutting to marinating to making sauces.

Tumber said he bought $500 worth of ice to try to save as much of his product during the outage, but he estimates losses have reached close to $200,000 between product and lost revenue.

"I have three weddings and four outside caterings that I have to cancel." he said

Tumber is still waiting to hear from his insurance company as to how much will be covered.

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