Storm Arthur power outages push people into UNB dorms

Power outages from storm Arthur has many people in the Fredericton area seeking alternate accommodations, ranging from hotels to university residences.

With most Fredericton hotels booked, some turn to UNB residences for accommodations

With thousands of New Brunswickers still waiting for their power to be restored one week after post-tropical storm Arthur and many hotels already fully booked, some people have been turning to university residences.

Many people in Fredericton have been turning to the residences at the University of New Brunswick for accommodations after their homes lost power during storm Arthur. (CBC)
The University of New Brunswick in Fredericton has almost 400 people staying in the dorms, said Michelle McNeil, director of conference services, who helps co-ordinate reservations.

"We're up about maybe 40 per cent over this time last year with people just needing accommodations," she said.

Hans Rieekko, who is in town for a conference, is among them.

"All of a sudden, I'm on my way to Fredericton and I get this email saying that [my] hotel will be closing because [it has] no power. 'You need to find other accommodations, please try the University of New Brunswick,'" he said.

The rooms don't offer the luxury of the hotel, but they have bedding and bath amenities, and some are equipped with a full kitchen.

Most importantly, they have electricity.

"It brings back a lot of memories of first year university," said Rieekko.

Hotels in the Fredericton area weren't able to accommodate all the people looking for a place to stay after they lost power last weekend during the storm.

Michelle McNeil, director of conference services for the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, says campus residences are rented out during the summer, but storm Arthur brought a 40 per cent increase in business this week. (CBC)
The capital was one of the hardest hit areas with tens of thousands of homes and businesses without electricity.

"It's been a little chaotic," said Geoff Gallant, manager of the Crowne Plaza Fredericton-Lord Beaverbrook.

In addition to offering people affected by the storm a place to eat and to shower, it has also been offering a special room rate.

But it has been forced to turn some people away due to summer reservations. "We were essentially sold out from Saturday. And we're sold out the next two weeks," said Gallant.

Once hotels were full, they began referring customers to the university, said McNeil.

"Over the weekend, I think all the front desks across the city, the staff were all calling each other to see if they had rooms available because there were so many people that were looking for spaces to stay," she said.

The UNB residences are also housing crews that have been brought in to help restore power in the Fredericton area, said McNeil.

NB Power has said it hopes to have 95 per cent of its customers back online by Sunday and 99 per cent by Tuesday.