More than 700 people evacuated from their apartment building in east Ottawa won't be able to return home until Wednesday at the earliest.

The tenants were displaced early Monday afternoon when an electrical fire cut off power to a 16-floor apartment building on Donald Street. Residents will not be able to return home until the building is deemed safe.

City officials, who were brought in to help, say the building won't be livable for at least another night, but the return date for tenants is still tentative.

"We are aware that electrical work that has to be conducted. As well, there was some damage to some doors that had to be forcibly opened," said John Ash, of the city's emergency management team.

Although the city has an estimate on when people can return home, the building's property management company could not confirm that timeline.

"We have not even as a property management company been able to get in and begin an assessment for our own of what the damage is," said Danny Roth, a spokesperson for Greenwin Inc.

Meantime, many evacuated residents have found shelter with family or friends. However, the city has also put up nearly 200 people in five Ottawa hotels.

Firefighters continued to help residents retrieve essential items from their units on Tuesday. Dozens of people lined up for hours to try to get things such as clothing and medication from their homes.

Residents who live in the building have become frustrated and emotional by the experience.

An elderly woman who was let into her unit to get some essential items on Tuesday was so overwhelmed that she fainted and had to be taken to hospital.

One 12-year-old boy told CTV Ottawa that he stayed in the building for almost three hours after the fire started. He said he looked out the window and saw the emergency response, but didn't know what to do.

Firefighters got him out after his mother came home from the grocery store and told emergency crews he was still inside.

"Three hours, I was just sitting there then I looked out the balcony and saw the firemen. I didn't know what was going on," said Alex Cadet.

Many young families are also struggling to explain the situation to their children.

Melanie Fortin said she didn't have an answer for her daughter when she asked when they'd be going home.

"When she woke up this morning, she asked me if we were going home. That was the first thing she said when she woke up this morning," said Fortin.

Anyone who still needs shelter is asked to call the city's hotline at 3-1-1.

With a report from CTV Ottawa's John Hua