People in some areas of Cape Breton could be without power until late Friday morning after high winds walloped the province Thursday, closing several schools and stripping dozens of shingles from the newly replaced roof of a historic Cape Breton church.
Nova Scotia Power said roughly 1,000 customers in the Ingonish area won't have their power restored until about 11 a.m. Friday due to the number of downed power lines and poles. As of 6:15 a.m., about 2,300 customers remained without power, mostly in Cape Breton, down from a peak of more than 26,000 Thursday morning.
"Crews are having difficulty patrolling for remaining damage now that it's dark," said spokesperson Tiffany Chase in an email.
Chase said a helicopter will be brought in Friday morning to help crews identify what still needs to be repaired.
Other areas to have power tonight
"We appreciate customers' patience as we safely work to restore power to customers as quickly as possible," Chase said.
Western Nova Scotia and Halifax, meanwhile, saw power restored by 9 p.m. Thursday. Northeastern Nova Scotia and most of Cape Breton should have electricity back by 11 a.m. Friday.
Church roof damaged
A historic Cape Breton church was also damaged in the storm. The damage at St. Alphonsus came less than 48 hours after an event to unveil the new roof. Soldiers with 4 Engineer Support Regiment from Gagetown, N.B., had restored the roof as part of a military training exercise.
"It was blowing a gale, the porta-potty was tipped over, the shingles on the roof were flapping in the wind," said Melanie Sampson, chair of the Stone Church Restoration Society. "Some of them are coming right off."
A military spokesperson said the soldiers who remain in Cape Breton will do what they can over the next couple of days to replace the shingles. They plan to return in the spring to finish the job.
Chase said Nova Scotia Power had more than 100 power line technicians working through the night.
"This is the first sort of fall/winter storm we've seen where we have this level of wind, particularly along the Halifax and eastern regions," Chase told CBC News earlier in the day.
"Our crews are out there working as quickly as they can, but when it's extremely windy they may have to wait until the winds die down and we are already seeing that at this time. So they're able to get out there and address those issues and safely restore power to our customers."
Several schools cancel classes
Several schools in Cape Breton were closed Thursday because they had no electricity. The Nova Scotia Community College Akerley campus in Dartmouth was also closed.
CBC meteorologist Brennan Allen said the weather station on the Confederation Bridge reported sustained winds of 125 km/h on Thursday with the peak gust recorded at 148 km/h. That temporarily forced the closure of the bridge.
Pugwash had a bit of weather whiplash, going from about 17 C on Wednesday down to 1 C and snow Thursday morning.