Cool Relief: Hintonburg’s Merry Dairy Offers Freezer Room, Generator to Storm-Stricken Residents

After the tornadoes that ripped through Ottawa in September 2018, knocked out power in her ice cream shop for two days and forced her to throw out a freezer full of merchandise, Marlene Haley, the owner of Merry Dairy, swore next time Mother Nature her pitched would be better prepared for a turn.

“I bought a generator,” she said, “and I’ve never had to use it.”

Until Monday, though.

The popular Hintonburg confectionary managed to dodge all the major effects of Saturday’s violent storm, which left about 180,000 customers in Ottawa without power. While Haley knew many other businesses and households were less fortunate, she didn’t fully understand the magnitude of the devastation until she took the store’s ice cream truck the next day to deliver treats to a 99th birthday celebration in Nepean.

“I was in my own little bubble in the store and I thought, ‘We have power – everything is great,’” she told OBJ. “I was driving around in the truck and… I had to make a four-way stop at every light that went out to the birthday party. Then I realized how bad it was.”

“I was driving around in the truck and… I had to make a four-way stop at every light that went out to the birthday party. Then I realized how bad it was.”

With no events booked for Victoria Day Monday, the Merry Dairy team sprang into action to offer helpless residents a little relief.

Normally a vehicle for cones, pies and other treats, the store’s ice cream truck was transformed into a mobile power station. Haley’s husband charged the generator and made good use of it. He set out early to offer a charging service to residents of the McKellar Park, Meadowlands, and Alta Vista neighborhoods.

Meanwhile, Haley offered space in the Merry Dairy’s full-sized refrigerator and walk-in freezer — which she rented last week after the store’s permanent store collapsed during the recent heat wave — to residents whose perishable meats, produce and other goods were on the verge of being sold out. spoil.

She said about a dozen people stopped by to drop off boxes of meat and other items. Most were able to collect them the next day after power was restored to their homes.

As for phone charging from the Merry Dairy, Haley said it seemed to be generating more fuss for what the refrigerated vehicle represented than for the service it offered Monday.

‘Good news on a rough day’

“People were pretty excited I guess just to see an ice cream truck,” she said with a chuckle, assuming most residents had already found alternative sources of juice for their appliances by then. “It was good news on a rough day for everyone who was cleaning up.”

Recalling how she felt in the wake of the horrific storm of 2018, Haley said this time she was eager to help others.

“It broke my heart when I had to throw away all our products after the tornado,” she said.

Saturday’s deadly winds reportedly reaching 90mph (190 km/h) were another challenge for local businesses that have already been tested to their limits during the pandemic, Haley added.

The Merry Dairy switched to selling ice cream to go and taking online orders to make ends meet during COVID-related shutdowns.

With restrictions lifted, retail service poised to enter peak season and catering back in full swing, things are better than ever, Haley said.

“We’re finally a first, and that feels good,” she said. “It’s starting to get a little more normal.”

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