This story is in partnership with Spring.
When he was working at Canadian Nuclear Laboratories in Chalk River, Ontario, engineer Edward Chiang was shocked at what happened when there was a regional power cut.
Although just 180 kilometres northwest of Ottawa, the impact was dramatically worse. In the national capital, power went out for a few hours. But in Chalk River, the blackout lasted 24 hours. Locals told Chiang that a record blackout once lasted two weeks.
Grocery stores were throwing away frozen food, Chiang recalls, while hospitals were struggling to stay open. The only place with its lights on was the local Tim Horton’s, thanks to a backup diesel generator.
“Everything was down. There was no reception or anything,” Chiang said. “That really was what hit me. I realized that even living in a very privileged, first-world country here, a
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