NB Power worker trimming ice-covered trees

More than 250 line and tree-trimming crews are working to restore power across New Brunswick after last week's ice storm. (CBC)

About 4 New Brunswick homes and businesses still have no electricity tonight, down from about 1,600 this morning.

NB Power had hoped to have those customers reconnected by the end of the day. As of 11 p.m. there were just a handful of customers still in the dark.

NB Power president and CEO Gaëtan Thomas says it's too early to begin calculating the cost of repairs and equipment damage.

More than 250 crews continue to work around the clock to restore power.

Thomas says it has been difficult to explain to people why it has taken so long.

He says some remote areas were impassable and it took a dozen crews five days to clear the lines to restore a dozen customers.

Thomas says once everyone is reconnected, the utility will look at ways to improve communication with customers.

Gaetan Thomas

N.B. Power president and CEO Gaëtan Thomas says underground power lines are not immune to Mother Nature. (CBC)

"You know, people don't believe a storm like this can occur until it does occur. And we’ve also learned that more geomatics on the website would be useful to be able to explain where and why, you know, one side of the street has power and the other side doesn’t."

NB Power also hopes to get customers' cellphone numbers on record, said Thomas. Most people were calling the utility to report outages from their cellphones and it created confusion, he said.

"So these are simple little things that we can improve on — having people's cellphones attached to their accounts."

As for the proposal to put power lines underground, Thomas says it has been done in some municipalities, but cost is a major factor.

Underground lines aren't immune from Mother Nature, he added.

The Red Cross has closed all of its warming centres in the province.

The last one to stay open was in Grand Bay-Westfield at St. Matthews Church.

There were warming centres in more than a dozen communities after more than 82,000 NB Power customers lost power at some point over the holidays. The outages began Dec. 23.