Arthur hits Maritimes: crews restoring power in wake of storm
NB Power reporting largest number of power outages in the utility's history
- Provincial government offices in Fredericton area will be closed Monday
- NB Power says more than 100,000 customers were without power on Sunday
- NB Power's CEO says about 50% of affected customers should have power returned on Sunday evening
- Nova Scotia Power says electricity will be returned for most customers by Sunday evening
Post-tropical storm Arthur cleanup was underway in the Maritimes Sunday as thousands of people were still without electricity.
NB Power reported late Sunday that more than 100,000 customers in the province remained without power, nearly half in the provincial capital region. Nova Scotia Power's website listed more than 65,000 outages.
Environment Canada lifted all storm warnings over land in the Atlantic region in the wake of the potent storm, which brought with it near-hurricane strength winds and torrential rains.
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Gaëtan Thomas, the president and chief executive officer of NB Power, spoke to reporters on Sunday and offered an update on when many citizens will see their electricity restored.
"Fifty per cent of our customers should have power back by midnight tonight. The majority of our customers by noon tomorrow," Thomas said.
"And the remainder, the ones in remote rural areas — the pockets of one or two customers, and there are more than 1,500 — they will be probably until Wednesday or Thursday when we can back to them."
Bob Scott, a spokesperson for NB Power, said these number of outages is the highest the company has ever seen.
"We are at 135,00 customers [without power] right now and there is a possibility that those numbers could rise slightly this morning, depending on what comes in from the eastern side of the province," Scott said.
Thomas warned people not to deal with downed trees and lines on their own.
"Lines will become entangled with the trees. Don't take your chainsaws out — we know a lot of New Brunswickers own chainsaws — don't take them out. It's not prudent. It's very dangerous," he said.
"You have to treat every downed line as active and live."
Scott said NB Power was ready for the powerful storm.
"We are ready for it and we are getting even more people in. You will see an awful lot of activity around the province [on Sunday]," Scott said.
Scott said there were a few crews out assessing damage overnight but most crews were pulled from the road for safety reasons and to give them some rest.
NB Power said it restored power to 60,000 high-priority customers on Saturday.
NS Power says electricity may return Sunday
Other communities may have to wait until 11:30 p.m., while people in isolated places may have to wait until Monday or even Tuesday to be reconnected.
"We have 73 Nova Scotia Power crews and an additional 35 contract crews and then  tree crews," said Stacey Pineau, a company spokesperson.
EastLink says it's experiencing "a service interruption" affecting customers in the Maritimes.
There are still roughly 5,000 people on Prince Edward Island without power, according to Maritime Electric.
Arthur weakening as it approaches N.L.
The Canadian Hurricane Centre issued a statement on Sunday morning that said Arthur was "slowly weakening." The remnants of Arthur are southwest of Stephenville and heading toward Newfoundland.
"Remnants of post-tropical storm Arthur are nothing more than some lingering gusty winds and a few pockets of heavy showers (Newfoundland and Cape Breton)," according to the Canadian Hurricane Centre.
On Saturday, the storm was downgraded from hurricane status with sustained winds of about 110 km/h as it approached landfall in the Yarmouth area of Nova Scotia at about 7:30 a.m.
Greenwood, N.S., set the record for the strongest winds as the Canadian Hurricane Centre indicated gusts reached 138 km/h.
Several other Maritime communities were hit with very strong winds:
- Brier Island, N.S.: 128 km/h.
- Yarmouth, N.S.: 111 km/h.
- Lunenburg, N.S.: 108 km/h.
- Charlottetown, P.E.I.: 105 km/h.
- Fredericton, N.B.: 100 km/h.
The storm also brought heavy rains to many parts of the Maritimes.
All of New Brunswick received heavy rainfall. St. Stephen, in the southwestern part of the province, received 143 millimetres of rain on Saturday — the highest amount of rain from the storm recorded in the Maritimes.
The town also experienced some flooding on Saturday. However, police say the flooding is over and King Street, which was closed at 2 p.m on Saturday, has since reopened.
The highest rainfall amounts on Saturday were all recorded in New Brunswick:
- Noonan, N.B., 140 mm.
- Millville, N.B.: 127 mm.
- Miramichi, N.B.: 122 mm.
- Gaspé, Que.: 67 mm.
- Yarmouth, N.S.: 52 mm.
- North Cape, P.E.I.: 27 mm.
Communities offer help
Several communities opened up public buildings for residents affected by the heavy rain and powerful winds brought to the region by post-tropical storm Arthur.
Fredericton set up a reception and charging centre at the city’s convention centre on Saturday. The centre will reopen on Sunday. The Red Cross will also be there to serve coffee and water.
Oromocto is also turning its municipal office into a reception centre on Sunday. The town says water and coffee will be available to residents affected by Arthur.
The widespread power outages, particularly in New Brunswick, forced many people to gas stations on Saturday to fill up in order to power their generators.
Many gas stations in Fredericton are reporting they are out of gas. The crush of people heading to the few gas stations that remained open caused some tempers to flare.
Lee-Anne Donovan said people were waiting more than 20 minutes for gas on Saturday evening and their patience was wearing thin.
Donovan also said all the food from their freezer has been sold.