More than 2,000 Hydro-Québec customers in the Eastern Townships are still without power, and some living in more remote areas may only get it back at the end of the day on Dec. 27.
“We’ve had a rough Christmas,” says Daniel Dumas, emergency coordinator for Hydro-Québec distribution.
About 500 workers from Hydro-Québec and New Brunswick Power were working around the clock on Christmas Eve to restore power to nearly 30,000 customers in the Eastern Townships and Montérégie regions.
The number of workers has since increased to 800.
Dumas says workers are now focusing their attention on the most remote parts of the Eastern Townships and Montérégie.
"To get to the ... infrastructures, it’s very difficult because now we’re in the most critical phase — the lines that are in the woods," Dumas says.
At least one family in Austin in the Eastern Townships made the effort yesterday to show the hydro crews their appreciation.
"My husband drove down with my son with the last of our Christmas chocolates and thanked them for working on Christmas Day," Madeleine Taylor told CBC News.
Day 5 of no power for some
For Taylor and thousands of other Hydro-Québec customers in the Eastern Townships, the power went out overnight between Saturday and Sunday last weekend, and it hasn't come back on since.
Hal Newman in Stanstead, a municipality near the Canadian–U.S. border, says the food bank lost power on Christmas Day, forcing workers to move the food to the local IGA grocery store.
Mo Ittihadieh, his wife and their three children left their Toronto home for Georgeville last Friday, thinking they would be escaping the ice storm that hit southern Ontario over the weekend.
He says the power went out at their vacation home in the Eastern Townships around 1 a.m. ET on Sunday.
Today is the fifth day of no electricity for the Ittihadieh family.
"It’s getting hard to maintain," he says.
The family is lucky, all things considered — they have access to gas generators meaning they have some running water, and wood stoves are keeping them from freezing. They even lit up their Christmas tree for a few moments while they exchanged gifts, thanks to generators loaned to them by a generous neighbour.
Outages in Estrie/Montérégie: more than 98% of affected customers regained power. 800 workers are still hard at work.— Hydro-Québec (@hydroquebec) December 26, 2013
He says the close-knit community of Georgeville has really banded together.
The local gas station stayed open on Christmas Day so people could get fuel for their generators, and Ittihadieh says his son is volunteering with the local fire department, igniting wood stoves to prevent pipes from freezing and bursting.
"You wouldn't believe the way this community actually comes together and helps each other out," Ittihadieh says.
Tips for people in the dark
Dumas of Hydro-Québec says that people who are still without electricity should follow these steps to help prevent surges once the power comes back on:
- Turn down the thermostats in every room.
- Do not use the stove or dryer for the first two to three hours of the power being back on.
Some people who got their electricity back recently briefly lost it again Thursday as Hydro-Québec workers temporarily cut power to repair lines, Dumas says.
"We’re doing our very best to make sure everybody’s back on track by Dec. 27. Please be patient. We’re working very hard," he says.