Storm Arthur leaves thousands in Maritimes in dark for third night

Crews are struggling to restore power to more than 69,000 customers in New Brunswick and about 19,000 in Nova Scotia, two days after post-tropical storm Arthur hit the Maritimes.

NB Power had estimated half of affected customers would be back up Sunday night, N.S. power returning slowly

Tens of thousands of people in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia are preparing for a third night without power following post-tropical storm Arthur.

Crewscontinued to struggle to restore power to more than 69,000 customers in New Brunswick and about 19,000 in Nova Scotia, as of about 8 p.m. AT on Monday.

The hardest-hit area in New Brunswick is Fredericton, where 35,691 customers are without power, according to NB Power’s website.

  • In western New Brunswick, there are 13,471 customers still in the dark in Woodstock.
  • In southern New Brunswick, NB Power reports there are 9,379 customers without power in St. Stephen and7,443 in Rothesay.
  • Meanwhile, in eastern New Brunswick, there are 3,849 people without power in Miramichi.
Workers assess damage to power lines in Fredericton after post-tropical storm Arthur caused a significant blackout in the city. (Catherine Harrop/CBC)
The high winds and heavy rain caused power interruptions for about 200,000 customers throughout the weekend, the utility said. About 140,000 customers were without power at the peak of the outages.

The restoration of power is taking longer than NB Power predicted on Sunday.

Gaëtan Thomas, president and chief executive officer of NB Power, said Sunday that half of the 135,000 of customers without electricity "should have power back by midnight tonight. The majority of our customers by noon” on Monday.

Thomas told CBC's Information Morning Fredericton on Monday the utility has been forced to reassess its estimates for restoring power to much of the province.

“The target now is to have 80 per cent of our customers restored within five days. That is quite exceptional considering the damage; 2,000 trees in Fredericton alone and we estimate tens of thousands of trees across the province,” Thomas said.

It's the most damaging storm in recent history, Thomas said.

This is a massive effort and we have first-rate workers who are committed to return power to customers as soon as possible.- Gaëtan Thomas, NB Power's president

NB Power says the remaining 20 per cent of customers will have their power restored by the weekend.

The utility is asking those without power to unplug their electrical items.

"This 'cold load pickup' is causing repeat outages as we restore power and slowing our progress," NB Power posted on Twitter.

Thomas said crews restored power to about 77,000 customers on Sunday but many had to be restored twice or three times.

NB Power posted on its Twitter account that the company's estimates for returning power to many New Brunswickers was "overly optimistic."

Nova Scotia Power is in a similar situation,with about 19,424 customers still without electricity by Monday night.

The utility had previously estimated most customers would have power restored Sunday evening.

Neera Ritcey, a spokeswoman for Nova Scotia Power, said the majority of customers would have their power back on Monday, but others could be waiting until Wednesday.

More than 200 crews were expected to be working in New Brunswick by noon on Monday,up from the 155 who were out on Sunday, Thomas said. Additional crews were coming from Maine and Quebec.

About 80 crews were focused on the Fredericton area.

Thomas said they are working 24 hours a day.

“This is a massive effort and we have first-rate workers who are committed to return power to customers as soon as possible,” he said.

J.D. Irving Ltd. has also sent logging trucks, grapplers and chippers to Fredericton to help with the effort, said Wayne Tallon, the city's director of public safety.

Crews have been able to clear city streets of tree debris and will now focus on cleanup in other areas, said Tallon.

He estimates it will take at least three weeks to pick up the bigger trees.

Residents are being urged not to cut up tree debris unless they are experienced. They should leave it to professionals, Tallon said.

The New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization says there have been "several incidents of unauthorized burning," as residents try to clean up debris from the storm.

"Residents are advised that any open burning creates a potentially greater fire hazard and can affect air quality, particularly for those who are very young or elderly and those with chronic heart or lung diseases," EMO said in a statement.

The organization is also urging residents to support the cleanup efforts by giving first responders and restoration crews priority at the busy gas pumps.

Post-tropical storm Arthur is responsible for the largest blackout in New Brunswick’s history, according to NB Power.

The storm brought strong winds and heavy rain. The strongest winds were recorded in Fredericton, where gusts hit 100 km/h.

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.

Other communities that had significant highest rainfall amounts on Saturday include:

  • Noonan, N.B., 140 mm.
  • Millville, N.B.: 127 mm.
  • Miramichi, N.B.: 122 mm.

Many municipalities are trying to help citizens, who have been without power for several days.

Fredericton will open the Grant-Harvey Centre and Willie O’Ree Place on Monday, and they will be used as charging stations. Shower facilities will also be available at the arenas.


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