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The hunt for coffee: P.E.I. residents wake up without power and seek out java

A Tim Hortons customer hands his friend a coffee after the power was restored to the Tim Hortons Grafton Street location in Charlottetown on Thursday morning.
A Tim Hortons customer hands his friend a coffee after the power was restored to the Tim Hortons Grafton Street location in Charlottetown on Thursday morning. - Josh Lewis

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - It was a mad rush at Charlottetown coffee shops Thursday morning.

Large swaths of the Island woke up to no power, and thus no way of getting their dose of caffeine.

The scene at Tim Hortons near the Hillsborough Bridge was loosely organized chaos, with cars lined up out onto Grafton Street.

Many were disappointed when they got into the drive-through and found the shop had no power.

“They’re not open!” one man called from his truck to people walking by.

One woman lined up outside the store said the situation was “getting desperate.”

A man said he’d driven three and a half hours from western P.E.I.

One couple at Robin’s on Grafton Street in Charlottetown said it was their seventh stop in an attempt to get coffee after striking out in other areas across the city.

Nearly 51,000 Maritime Electric customers were without power at that point.

Once word spread that the Tim Hortons on Grafton Street was back in business, the lineup stretched all around the inside of the store.
Once word spread that the Tim Hortons on Grafton Street was back in business, the lineup stretched all around the inside of the store.

The P.E.I. Twitter ranks also lit up with people yearning to get their hands on a cup of joe.

“I can deal with no power right now, but seriously, where can I get a hot coffee in Charlottetown?” wrote Paul Alan.

“P.E.I. folks are a pitiful bunch when the power is out and (we) need our coffee,” said Dan Thomson.

Dan Aiken suggested a rather creative solution.

“At what point do we declare a state of emergency and request the feds deploy the army with emergency coffee?”

Some used camp stoves at home, while others lined up at the capital’s larger Atlantic Superstore location.

Former Stratford town councillor Jody Jackson took drastic measures, tapping into his keg of coffee stout beer.

“(It’s) as close as I’m going to get to coffee today.”

“Based on how P.E.I. folks are universally reacting to this storm, coffee will be the new currency should power remain off,” tweeted Fresh Media.

However, Charlottetown’s working weary were thrown a bone at about 10:45 a.m. when power was restored to some areas of the city, including the crowded coffee chain.

The doors opened and folks hurried in to escape the weather, but soon realized they’d be waiting a while.

By 11 a.m., the line-up wound from one end of the restaurant to the other, with the tail of the line close to the front.

Some were facing a wait of an hour or longer.

But it was definitely worth it for one man, who said he’d been awake since Wednesday morning.

The lack of java took its toll on some, like Brent Slater. His wife Elizabeth boiled water on the woodstove and made coffee in a French press, he said.

“I was pretty insufferable up until that point.”

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