With more than 125,000 NB Power customers in the dark — 56,000 of which are in Fredericton — the utility says people could be waiting days to have power restored.
Tens of thousands are without power after post-tropical storm Arthur swept through the Maritimes Saturday.
NB Power said it had about 110 line and tree trimming crews responding to the massive task of trying to connect power to those affected by the storm. The utility said more crews from other districts are expected to arrive Sunday to help.
NB Power spokesman Bob Scott said high winds forced restoration operations in Fredericton to stop for the night Saturday.
“Right now, the winds will not allow us to put buckets in the air because they’ll just blow all over the place. There are still trees coming down here in the city and I can’t speak to the rest of the places, but there’s still a lot of trees coming down here,” he said.
"I’m looking out my window, which looks across the St. John River from the south side to the north side on the ninth floor of the NB Power building and there’s absolutely nothing on over on the other side of the river except for car lights.”
Deborah Nobes, a spokesperson for NB Power, said the majority of NB Power customers should have power restored within 48 hours, however those in remote areas could be waiting as long as Wednesday before the lights come back on.
Deputy Mayor of Fredericton Eric Megarity confirmed the Fredericton Convention Centre would stay open Saturday to receive those without power. A charging station has been set up to allow people to charge their electronic devices.
The facility will remain open until midnight Saturday and will reopen Sunday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Also helping those in the dark, the Quispamsis Civic Centre will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday for people to get water, and charge cell phones or other electronic devices. People are asked to bring along their own water containers.
Storm takes down more than a thousand trees including this one in front of my house. pic.twitter.com/ZAduQDAsXH— Brad Woodside (@bradwoodside) July 5, 2014
“The greatest number of power outages are in the Fredericton area, where heavy rain combined with extremely strong winds are still blowing large numbers of trees into power lines,” said Nobes in a news release.
“Residents are urged to stay clear of downed lines. Do not attempt to clear broken branches or trees from roadways or property as they could contain hidden power lines.”
NB Power says its receiving a higher volume of calls. The utility says if customers trying to report outages receive a busy signal, they should hang up and try calling again.
Brad Woodside, the mayor of Fredericton, said on Twitter more than 1,000 trees in his neighbourhood had been felled by Arthur's strong winds.