By late Thursday evening, more than 350,000 Montrealers were still without power. Many spent part of the day looking for places to keep warm, recharge the batteries of electronic devices and have a snack.

The streets of Outremont and Mont-Royal are plunged into darkness on Thursday evening: not a lamppost, not a traffic light. In the gleam of the headlights appear the silhouette of the residences and the carcasses of broken branches pushed back along the streets. Here and there, a Hydro-Quebec truck.

At the end of equally dark Rockland Boulevard, a mirage appears: the neon signs of the Rockland Center. Located in the heart of several areas hard hit by power outages – including Mont-Royal, Outremont and Parc-Extension – it was attacked by people looking for heat and food.

Everywhere else in the metropolis, cafes, restaurants and even metro stations have experienced this same influx, La Presse has seen.

“It’s difficult, because it’s started to get cold, there’s no hot water, and it’s not easy for the baby,” Basant Meikhail said. This mother took refuge with her husband Tamer Tawfeek and their three children at the mall for a good part of Thursday. The youngest, Maritshia, is barely 7 weeks old.

In Villeray, they lost electricity at 9 p.m. Wednesday evening. Twenty-four hours later, no sign of a return.

Mr. Tawfeek tried to contact hotels to spend the night, but without success: everything was full. “We’ll all sleep together in the living room,” consoles Ms. Meikhail.

By their side, in the hubbub of the mall, Tania Portillo and Philippe Cadieux brought their two daughters to eat ice cream while warming up.

“Last night I was a bit cold,” said six-and-a-half-year-old Tamara. “So the girls came to join us in bed and the family slept together,” Ms. Portillo explains.

The family has relatives in the Laurentians and wonders if she is going to join them the same evening, or if she is staying there in the hope that the electricity will return.

This shopping center was attacked by people looking for a hot drink in the morning, also testifies Issa Haddad. “There were endless lines, at every cafe, restaurant, Starbuck. At Tim Hortons, I would have had to wait at least an hour and a half for a coffee! “, he is surprised.

Resourceful, this resident of Outremont finally found the solution: he prepared a soluble coffee in cold water, at home. And he got himself a little stove that he can use inside. In the evening, we meet him installed next to an electrical outlet where he charges his cell phone while reading.

His only regret, under the circumstances, the lost food: “I have two freezers full, and I put a lot of work to [fill it]. I have pesto and all sorts of other things,” he laments.

You only have to take a few steps in the mall to see dozens of people using the electrical outlets available to them.

Zain El Arab even brought a power strip to charge the phones of his extended family he lives with, including a one-month-old infant. He shares it with those who need it.

“It’s difficult, you can’t have coffee or heat food, especially with babies,” he said.

Michel Tardif prefers to be at the Rockland Center because “in the house, there is nothing to do”.

A little further on, Corinne Ho, an American from Los Angeles, taps on her cell phone to recharge. Ms. Ho is visiting her mother, who lives in Ahuntsic-Cartierville. “It’s definitely nicer [in the mall] and warmer,” she points out, pointing to the lit windows of the shops around. Is she disappointed with her visit to Quebec, under the circumstances? “Oh no, I love Montreal! she exclaims.