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Shop-owner reunited with family on Christmas day after they were stranded in Toronto ice storm

Keeran Arasaratnam and his father on their return to London. Picture: Keeran Arasaratnam Keeran Arasaratnam and his father on their return to London. Picture: Keeran Arasaratnam

Monday, December 30, 2013
5:26 PM

A Hornchurch shop-owner feared for his family’s lives after they were trapped without communication and had began running out of food in the deadly Toronto ice storm.

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Keeran Arasaratnam and his family reunited in Toronto. Picture: Keeran ArasaratnamKeeran Arasaratnam and his family reunited in Toronto. Picture: Keeran Arasaratnam

After three days of separation, they were reunited to celebrate Christmas.

On December 22, Keeran Arasaratnam who was on a shopping trip in Manhattan, New York, to buy presents for his children, heard that a devastating storm had hit the Canadian city.

Keeran, 33, owner of Hacton Wines and Convenience Store, took his family, including his three children, aged 4-11, and his father, 78, to Toronto for the funeral of his wife’s uncle.

Torrential rain combined with low temperatures created an ice-blanket over the city leading to six deaths in the province of Ontario.

The Greater Toronto area was hit by the most severe ice storm since 1998. Frosty temperatures and snowfall continued through Christmas Day. Picture: PA.The Greater Toronto area was hit by the most severe ice storm since 1998. Frosty temperatures and snowfall continued through Christmas Day. Picture: PA.

Reports of two inches of ice and hundreds of thousands of people plunged into darkness reached Keeran sending him into a panic.

Keeran said: “I heard they were taking people from their houses to a shopping mall for safety.

“I couldn’t contact them whatsoever.

“I thought I couldn’t spend Christmas with my family, I missed my kids, wife and dad and prayed to god that everything would be fixed soon.”

He tried and failed to contact his family. He later found out that they had moved addresses in order to find power and the telephone lines were down.

At the time they were trapped inside without power and had started to run out of food.

In order to be closer to them, he travelled from NYC to Niagara Falls which borders the two countries but it was unsafe to travel further.

He kept updating his Facebook status with his situation and eventually a relative got in touch with him saying that his family had gone back to the house they were originally staying in. Keeran still couldn’t contact them.

Fortunately, on Christmas Day, the weather began to clear.

“On that day,” he said “I booked a coach from Niagara Falls to Toronto and then got a taxi to the house we were in originally.

“I peaked through the window and couldn’t see anyone. I thought no-one was there.

“I banged on the door and my wife came to it. I was so shocked and relieved.”

His return was a surprise to the whole family.

“I got there on Christmas afternoon and luckily everyone was okay,” he said.

“It was definitely an experience but it was a bad experience.”

On December 27 the family safely arrived back in Hornchurch.

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