Retirement Living Blog

Volunteer hugging senior after help

A true community effort: volunteers help 1,000 Ottawa seniors during multi-day power outage

On September 21st, Ottawa-Gatineau was changed forever by six tornados.

We saw so much devastation in different parts of the city.

In addition, thousands of homes were without power for several days—including high-rise apartment buildings, where many Ottawa seniors live.

With no power, they had no water, no elevator access, and no hall lights (in fact, many of the buildings were pitch-black).

As a result, those seniors were left to fend for themselves.

As you can imagine, these people—particularly the seniors living on their own and therefore isolated—were especially vulnerable during this time. Some were in wheelchairs or had limited mobility. And almost none of them lived on the first floor.

But the good news is this: Ottawa is full of wonderful people, and our city rose to the occasion to help those in need.

Putting hands together in support

Tea & Toast joined forces with a group of local businesswomen to provide assistance to five buildings: 1275, 1285, 2841 and 2871 Richmond Road; and 57 Bateman Drive.

About 100 volunteers arrived on the scene with food, water and friendship, climbing as many as 22 floors to check in on seniors over several days before the power came back on. (Kudos to Jan White, who made the distress call and coordinated a lot of the help before we even arrived!)

And people didn’t just volunteer their time and legs—they also brought all kinds of free things, including milk and eggs. We knew some residents would not be able to quickly or easily replenish the food they had lost, so we ensured they would have a decent supply to last through the power outage. (We also helped some seniors figure out what food they could keep, and what needed to be thrown out.)

Many volunteers even brought their children to help—in fact, we were especially touched when one volunteer said bringing her kids was one of the best things they’d ever done together. One of her kids even received an award at school for their contribution!

Meanwhile, our group of volunteers was just one team that was there to help; so many people were willing to pitch in, whether they were neighbours or residents themselves.

All in all, it truly was a wonderful community effort. And somehow, our group of 100+ women were able to pull together and coordinate things, despite not having a plan in place.

At last count, we estimate we helped approximately 1,000 seniors in need.


Help us help seniors
Bringing an elderly person her meal during Ottawa power outage

We certainly hope a disaster/emergency like this is a once-in-a-lifetime event.

That said, it is important that a volunteer network exists, so it’s easier to coordinate efforts should there be a “next time.”

As such, we’ve created a Facebook group called “Ottawa Angels” (we were given the name by one of the lovely seniors we helped).

If you’d like to be part of our group and lend a hand in people’s time of need, please join our page!


Tea & Toast is in the local Ottawa community all the time—and helping seniors is always at the forefront of our mind. We are so happy to have played even a small role in helping our community after the tornado.


Cover Photo Taken from the Ottawa Citizen: Link Here

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