The most expensive natural disaster in Canadian history mobilized Christians as never before. The five-day eastern Canada ice storm in early January left more than 3 million people without power in Quebec alone. In some storm-ravaged areas, it took up to three weeks to restore power.
As the blackout persisted and temperatures plummeted to below zero, authorities went door to door evacuating citizens in danger of hypothermia or carbon monoxide poisoning from makeshift heating sources.
Church members spontaneously helped through an informal network of family and friends. Those with electricity or wood-burning stoves hosted those needy residents without heat. Potlucks became feasts as Christians shared the contents of thawing freezers.
The Salvation Army reacted quickly, opening up shelters in four Montreal-area churches and organizing four mobile canteens to dispense meals and hot beverages to storm victims, repair crews, and Canadian army personnel who had been called in to help.
Other churches with electric power or generators turned their buildings into temporary lodging. Church-sponsored food banks expanded to meet demand, congregations collected nonperishables, and many Canadian denominations established storm-relief funds.1