Storm Arthur outages expected to drop to 7,000

About 12,000 NB Power customers still have no power one week after post-tropical storm Arthur, but the utility is still aiming to have 95 per cent of customers back online by Sunday night.

Utility still aiming to have power restored to 95% of affected customers by Sunday night

Nearly 13,000 homes and businesses, most of them in Fredericton, sill affected by outages 2:33

NB Power is still aiming to have 95 per cent of customers who lost their power during post-tropical storm Arthur last weekend back online by Sunday night.

About 12,000 homes and businesses were still without power, as of 4 p.m. on Saturday.

NB Power has about 300 crews working to restore power, including these workers from Hydro-Québec. (Catherine Harrop/CBC)
At the peak of the outages from Arthur, 140,000 customers were affected.

"We're really putting effort on today and tomorrow," said NB Power spokesperson Bob Scott. "We're going to try to get beyond 95 per cent if we can."

On Thursday, NB Power had said it hoped to have power restored to 90 per cent of those customers  — or 126,000 — by Friday night, which would have dropped the number of outages to 14,000.

But by 6:30 a.m. Saturday, nearly 16,000 customers were still offline, according to the utility's website.

Scott says the numbers can be deceiving.

He says it's important for anyone tracking the outages to keep in mind that sometimes power has to be shut off in some areas to facilitate getting it back on for others.

If it appears outages are creeping up again, it's only temporary, he said.

Most outages in Fredericton

NB Power work crews arrived in Damascus on Saturday, where residents have been without power for seven days. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)
The number of customers still waiting for the return of electrical service stands at 12,104 one week after Arthur's high winds and heavy rain uprooted trees and toppled power lines across the province.

Fredericton remains the hardest hit with8,092 customers offline.

The Grant-Harvey Centre and Willie O’Ree Place will remain open throughout the weekend for citizens to shower, charge their electronic devices and get water.

About 6,142 people have made use of the centres, as of Friday night, city officials said.

More than 30,000 litres of water have been handed out between Monday and Thursday, they said.

The bulk of the other outages are in Woodstock, with 1,868, St. Stephen, with 1,537, and Rothesay, with 516.

Smaller outages also continue in Miramichi, Sussex, Tracadie and Bathurst.

Crews are working around the clock to restore power as quickly as possible, Scott said.

Donna and Paul Leonard of Hampton are happy to have power back after going seven days without. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)
Donna Leonard says she and her husband, Paul, are thrilled to have electricity at their Hampton home again after going seven days without.

A 40-foot linden tree fell on a nearby power pole during the storm last Saturday, knocking out their lights, as well as their water supply since they're on a well, said Leonard.

Their basement also flooded and without power, they couldn't use a sump pump, she said.

The couple eventually got a generator hooked up and the basement pumped out by late Saturday night.

But by Tuesday, their supply of water in the bathtub had run out and they had to use pool water to flush their toilets and bottled water to drink.

By Thursday, Leonard's patience had run out.

So on Saturday, when she saw a work crew at the end of her street, she hopped in her truck and paid them a visit.

"I drove down and I said, ‘Are you guys coming up the street?’ And they went, ‘We don’t know.’ And I said, ‘Well, ya, you are.’ So they said, ‘Well let us check and we’ll see.’ And about half an hour later, up they came and we were just dancing, we were so happy," she said.

"And they were like, ‘We’re sorry, we’re sorry,' and everybody was like, 'We’re not mad at you, we’re just so excited to see you.' So ya, it’s really good."

Valerie Macfarlane, of Damascus, isn't as fortunate.

The storm ripped the power line off her home and as of mid-afternoon Saturday, she was still waiting to be hooked up.

Macfarlane says her area was one of the last to be reconnected during the ice storm this past winter.

"I’d say this power outage had a lot more damage," she said.

"Here we had a lot of trees fall and stuff, but in the ice storm, it was just causing the trees to hit the lines, so that caused the outages. Now, it’s a lot more lines down."

Only estimates

NB Power officials have stressed that targeted restoration times are only estimates and can be affected by a variety of factors.

One of the challenges faced in recent days, for example, was that storm-weakened trees continued to fall on lines and infrastructure, causing thousands more to lose power.

But the utility provides conservative estimates to help people to make plans in the interim, officials have said.

NB Power hopes to have 99 per cent reconnected by Tuesday, said Scott.

The final one per cent — mostly seasonal properties and those with structural damages or significant damage to utility infrastructure — will take longer, officials have said.

We've got the crews working today, tomorrow, and they'll be working until the very last customer is hooked up.- Bob Scott, NB Power

"People have to understand that we're working very hard," said Scott. "Now into the tougher ones, where the trees have come down on the lines, the lines are tangled in the trees, it takes more time to get at them," he said.

"But we've got the crews working today, tomorrow, and they'll be working until the very last customer is hooked up."

More than 300 crews are working to restore power as soon as possible, including foresters from the private sector.

"Restoration work is being done with a strategic, priority-based approach," the Department of Public Safety said in a statement on Friday.

"The priorities are health and safety, telecommunications, securing food, fuel and cash distribution, and getting industry back to work."


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