Horizon scrambling to get power restored to remaining areas without service

1,300 Hamiltonians are without power in small pockets around the city. More than 100 Horizon Utility workers still in the field

Company hopes to have all power restored by Monday evening

Crews work to restore power to Hamilton's North Westdale neighbourhood on Sunday afternoon. Horizon Utilities said service returned to the area around 5 p.m., almost 48 hours after the outage began. (Cory Ruf/CBC)

Some Hamiltonians are still without power and still feeling the brunt of Friday's summer storm.

As of 9:30 a.m. Monday, around 1,300 homes in the Hamilton area are without power, according to a statement from Horizon Utilities. They stem from "additional outages" that were reported Monday morning, the company says.

"Horizon has more than 100 tradespeople in the field and more than 50 staff working in the office on the restoration effort," the statement reads. "We understand the impact this outage has for our customers. Crews continue to work around the clock to restore service as quickly as possible."

The outages aren't confined to any one area — small pockets of neighbourhoods throughout the city are without power. That includes the Mountain, the lower city, Stoney Creek and Ancaster. Visit the Horizon website for a specific list of outages.

Friday night's storm brought howling winds and rain that uprooted trees and knocked out power for much of the city. Some residents were angry about how the city and Horizon Utilities has handled the cleanup.

On Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m., Mary Fleming, who lives on Dufferin Street in Hamilton's North Westdale community, had been without power in her home for nearly two full days.

During that period of time, she and dozens of her neighbours, Fleming said, were virtually in the dark in terms of information on when the hydro would return.

"I'm quite annoyed with Horizon Utilities," she said, accusing the company of not keeping customers in her area adequately informed.

She said the hydro provider should have done a better job of supplying timely and accurate information to the media on how work was progressing.

But Ward 1 Coun. Brian McHattie says that crews are doing the best they can given the circumstances. "Overall, the cleanup is going well," he told CBC Hamilton. "It was an extraordinary storm."

"I think Horizon Utilities did their very best. They had a lot to deal with."

'Massive' undertaking

Horizon Utilities is still working "around the clock" to restore service, says spokesperson Larry Roberts.

"We've got the bulk of the customers back, but it's still very important to get these last 1,300 customers."

More than 100 horizon employees are out attempting to fix damage caused by the storm, with another 50 back at the company's call centre and command centre, Roberts says. Some employees ended up coming back from vacation to help out.

"I'm told this is the worst we've ever seen in Hamilton," he said.

Fixing a downed line isn't easy, he says. A tree service company has to be called in before anything can happen to cut up and remove the debris. The company then has to "de-energize" the entire area so it's safe to work, and then actually fix the lines.

"It can take a couple of hours to fix each individual problem," he said.

'It was a horrific storm'

Ward 15 Coun. Judi Partridge called the storm "chaos." She ended up directing traffic in her Flamborough ward shortly after the storm hit. "It was a horrific storm," she told CBC Hamilton. "Everyone said they'd never seen anything like this."

Partridge says some improvements could be made when it comes to cleanup efforts. "Horizon seems to be responding quickly to urban areas, but not as much in rural areas," she said.

Ward 11. Coun. Brenda Johnson told CBC Hamilton that she dealt with similar problems in her ward. "Residents who live in Winona received less damage than other areas but some areas were one of the last of Horizon Utilities customers to be restored," she said. "Their hydro did not come on until 40 [plus hours] after the storm."

The Village of Mount Hope was significantly hit with fallen trees, damaged structures and lack of power, Johnson says. Then at the other end of her ward to the east, Winona residents experienced flooding problems due to the lack of power.

Century-old trees ended up coming down on homes, garages, hydro wires and across roads. Crops were flattened, ditches were blocked with fallen tree limbs and hydro, phone and cable have been out for over hours, Johnson says.

"I was very impressed that neighbours have banded together to help each other out," she said. "I want to thank those residents who put aside their own cleanup to help their neighbours attend to the more severe damage."

"I also want to thank everyone who helped to remove trees from their roads to make their area safer for traffic."

Friday's thunderstorms, experienced across much of southern Ontario, capped off a week of 30-plus-degree heat in the city. During the storms, high winds and lightning tore down branches and toppled entire trees. Some ripped down hydro wires as they fell to the ground. In Ontario, about 18,700 Hydro One customers had no electricity on Monday morning.

A municipal worker in a Montreal suburb was killed by a falling tree during the storm, while at least 10 others were injured across Quebec.