Nova Scotia Power fixes outages for remaining customers after storm

Nova Scotia Power has restored power to the remaining customers who were without electricity since Friday's winter storm that damaged utility lines across the province.

About 2,300 customers in 84 communities started Tuesday without power

Power line technician Scott Leyte worked over the weekend to try and restore power in New Glasgow. There are still several areas with a handful of homes affected. (Harold MacLeod/Nova Scotia Power)

Nova Scotia Power has restored power to the remaining customers who were without electricity since Friday's winter storm that damaged utility lines across the province.

Spokeswoman Beverley Ware says the final customers were located in Stellarton, Antigonish and West Lochaber. Power was reconnected between 5:45 and 6:30 p.m., she said. 

Crews will now begin what's called non-outage cleanup to prevent future outages. Trees may be weakened enough to cause more outages, Ware said. 

While some communities such as Antigonish and New Glasgow had a few dozen outages, many of the smaller areas had one or two affected homes since the storm.

Michelle March's home in Maryvale, near Antigonish, lost power Friday night and she went to her mother's home to sleep and warm up. Her electricity was back when she returned to her house on Tuesday morning. 

Trapped due to fallen trees

"It's kind of fun at the beginning, it's kind of like camping but then it gets old," she said. "I don't think anyone expected it to be as hard as it was, or do as much damage as it's done."

A transformer at March's home blew Friday night, adding to the challenges.

"It caught on fire and then it blew. We have multiple trees down, we're far from the main road. We had about 50 trees down," she said.

This stretch doesn't compare to Hurricane Juan when she lost power for nine days, but March said she's grateful to family and friends who have helped out since the storm hit. 

"We were trapped in our driveway for the first few days. It took two chainsaws and a tractor with a snowblower and two plow trucks to get us clear of all the trees and all the snow," she said. 

"When something like this happens everyone pulls together to help each other out."

On Monday night, there was an additional power outage in Digby that affected about 2,300 homes and businesses. The utility said that was caused by damage to equipment and it was fixed by Tuesday morning.

'It wasn't easy going'

David Feltmate, a lineman for Antigonish's electrical department, says this storm may not be the worst he's ever seen, but power restoration work has been far from easy. 

He and his colleagues have been consistently working 16 to 18-hour days. 

"Heavy wet snow. It's taken trees down. The conductor's sagging," Feltmate said of the challenges he's faced in the wake of Friday's storm.

Dave Feltmate has been working around the clock since Friday's storm. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

"We're very fortunate. In the town utility, most of our primary conductors and secondary conductors are all neoprene coated so it can actually rub together without shorting out."

Still, he said they've been fighting against downed power lines and deep snow. 

"We actually had one of the public works members come on buy with his back hoe and he was shoving snow out of the way so we could get started," he said. "It wasn't easy going." 

Feltmate says his crew has "excellent" gear and a smaller area to cover than Nova Scotia Power -- an advantage when it comes to restoring power. 

Besides the storm, a big challenge the lineman face comes from shrinking operations budgets. 

"I don't think our utility is any different than anybody else's. You know, they're just short manpower."

With files from the CBC's Steve Berry


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