Thousands in Canada facing travel woes, still without power days after storms

Thousands of Canadians were still without electricity or facing travel headaches on Tuesday, days after fierce winter storms struck right before Christmas, while the U.S. deals with the fallout from the fierce weather that's claimed dozens of lives.

U.S. storm death toll rises; Buffalo, N.Y., expects more snow after blizzard buries city

A Hydro-Québec truck and an operator on a snowy road.
Most Quebecers should have power restored by Wednesday night following the powerful storms, according to Hydro-Québec. (Charles-Étienne Drouin/Radio-Canada)

The latest:

  • Pockets of power outages remain in Ontario and Quebec.
  • Via Rail resumes service along key corridor after storm delays.
  • Sunwing says return flights for stranded Canadians will continue until Friday.
  • New Brunswick Power restores electricity to a majority of customers.
  • Communities in parts of British Columbia under flood watch.
  • Buffalo, N.Y., braces for more snow as police deployed to enforce travel ban.

Thousands of people in Canada were still without electricity or facing travel headaches on Tuesday, days after fierce winter storms struck right before Christmas.

The storms have wreaked havoc with electricity grids and travel plans for the last four days.

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While the outage numbers have dropped significantly, tens of thousands of people remained without power on Tuesday as crews continued the work to repair lines brought down by strong winds and fallen trees, complicated by heavy snow hindering access to some sites.

Quebec remains the biggest trouble spot. As of Tuesday night, more than 19,000 homes and businesses were without power. Hydro-Québec said the Capitale-Nationale and Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean regions are among the hardest-hit regions.

Hydro-Québec said it can't give a restoration timeline for all customers because trees and other objects are keeping crews from accessing already difficult-to-reach areas. The company said it's using about 1,200 hydro crews from across the province, and 10 helicopters to clear paths and complete repair work.

About 6,500 homes and businesses were still without power in Ontario Tuesday night, the vast majority of them in the Georgian Bay region north of Toronto, Hydro One said as its fourth day of storm restoration continued.

WATCHHydro One crews in 'final stretch' of restoring power in Ontario:

Hydro One crews in 'final stretch' of restoring power in Ontario

3 months ago
Duration 3:38
Despite access being hindered by snow and ice-encased equipment, crews working to restore power for remaining customers across Ontario, Hydro One spokesperson Tiziana Baccega Rosa says.

The utility said it hoped to have power restored to the bulk of affected customers by the end of the day — and harder-to-reach cottages "in the coming days," spokesperson Tiziana Baccega Rosa said.

She said weather conditions have prevented the utility from getting helicopters and boats into the water in order to reach seasonal properties on islands or with water access only.

New Brunswick Power had reconnected almost everyone who had lost power by Tuedsay afternoon.

Flood watch in B.C.

In British Columbia, crews were making progress in restoring power after the winter wallop on the West Coast. BC Hydro said about 1,000 customers, mostly in the central Interior, remained without electricity, down considerably from the height of the storm.

As well, people across Vancouver Island and on the province's inner south coast were bracing on Tuesday for possible flooding.

WATCH | After so much snow and rain, a serious risk of flooding: 

B.C. faces another weather-related risk — flooding

3 months ago
Duration 1:23
After a holiday season that's already seen extreme snow, freezing rain and rain, some people on Vancouver Island and south of Vancouver are now preparing for a flood risk not experienced in years.

Environment Canada is expecting 60 to 120 millimetres of rain across the Sunshine Coast and Metro Vancouver by Wednesday morning.

People in B.C. are also still dealing with the aftermath of a deadly Christmas Eve highway bus crash that police suspect may have been caused by icy weather. 

Four people died and dozens of others were injured in the Ebus crash east of Merritt, near the Loon Lake exit.

Trains, planes and baggage 

Hundreds of Canadians have been stranded for days in Mexico after Sunwing cancelled their flights home, with many accusing the airline of "abandoning" them by not rebooking them on new flights or failing to make it clear where they will be staying while they wait to leave.

"A number of return flights continue to be impacted by delays due to displaced crew and aircraft, resulting from the aftermath of severe weather disruptions across Canada," the company said in a statement released on Tuesday.

Passengers are seen as they await transport at the airport in Cancun, Mexico on Christmas Day.
Passengers are shown early Christmas Day as they wait at the airport in Cancun, Mexico, after their delayed flight home to Canada was cancelled. (Hina Itsaso/The Canadian Press)

Sunwing said it is working "around the clock" to get passengers home.

"We have completed two recovery flights so far this week, have planned another eight recovery flights, which are scheduled to depart up to and including Dec. 30, 2022, and are currently finalizing recovery plans for our remaining passengers in destination," the airline said.

For southbound flights, Sunwing announced on Monday afternoon via Twitter that the baggage belt at Pearson International Airport's Terminal 3 in Toronto was not working, and as a result, it couldn't guarantee that customers' checked baggage would accompany them on departing aircraft.

Early Tuesday, the airport posted on Twitter that the baggage belt in question was operational again.

However, due to a high volume of passengers and staffing issues, the airport is still dealing with delays in getting arriving passengers their baggage, Tori Gass, a Greater Toronto Airports Authority spokesperson, told CBC News on Tuesday.

"We have brought in staff from elsewhere in the airport, as many as we can, to help the airlines out and to put more bodies into the baggage halls," Gass said.

WATCH | Delays and disruptions at Toronto's Pearson airport: 

Pearson airport brings in staff to help airlines minimize further delays

3 months ago
Duration 5:44
Spokesperson Tori Gass says the Greater Toronto Airport Authority has been working 'behind the scenes' to support airlines as they work to resolve delays and disruptions caused by winter storms.

For train travellers, Via Rail planned to have trains running again on Tuesday from Toronto to Ottawa, as well as Ottawa to Montreal. Via said trips from Toronto to Montreal will run on a "modified schedule," but it has warned of possible delays.

Service was cancelled for Christmas Day and Boxing Day because of a CN train derailment on Saturday near Grafton, Ont. The derailment shut down a stretch of track and left passengers trapped aboard trains for hours on the weekend.

U.S. storm death toll rises 

South of the border, storm-battered Buffalo, N.Y., braced for fresh snow on Tuesday while still striving to recover from an epic blizzard that killed at least 34 people in the region.

Mayor Byron Brown's office announced seven additional storm-related deaths on Tuesday, bringing the total in Buffalo  to 27, along with at least seven suburban fatalities.

State and military police were being sent to enforce a ban on driving on snow-choked streets. County Executive Mark Poloncarz said police would be positioned at entrances to Buffalo and at major intersections.

A man pushes a slow plow.
Mike Gippon plows snow in the driveway outside his home in Buffalo, N.Y., on Monday. (Joseph Cooke/Buffalo News/The Associated Press)

The U.S. National Weather Service predicted as much as five centimetres of snow could fall in Erie County, which includes Buffalo.

While that's a relatively small amount, it's expected to hinder the removal of the 1.25 metres of snow that fell in some places, starting on Christmas Eve. Officials said the city's airport will be shut through Wednesday morning.

The rest of the United States is also still reeling from the ferocious storm, with at least an additional two dozen deaths reported in other parts of the country, and power outages in communities from Maine to Washington state. The storm claimed 57 lives, over half in western New York, officials said on Monday.


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