Thousands of Quebec residents still without power 6 days after ice storm

Hydro-Québec says progress may appear slow Tuesday, as it tackles complex cases that impact fewer people at a time.

Repairs to damaged lines could be complete later today, Hydro-Québec projects

A Hydro worker works on a power line following an ice storm in Montreal.
Power has been restored to over 90 per cent of the more than one million customers who lost electricity after last week's ice storm, Régis Tellier, Hydro-Québec vice-president of operations and maintenance, said Sunday. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

The latest: 

  • As of 12:30 p.m. ET Tuesday, more than 19,000 Hydro-Québec customers were still without power.
  • Hydro-Québec says most households will have power back within 24 hours. 
  • More than 1 million customers have regained power from the peak of 1.1 million on Thursday.
  • 2 people have died, one after being hit by a falling branch, the other after using a generator in a garage.
  • 180 people in Montreal have been treated for carbon monoxide poisoning. 
  • The city of Montreal is starting to issue parking tickets on residential streets again. 
  • If the power or data on your device is low, get your storm updates on CBC Lite. It's our low-bandwidth, text-only website.
  • To keep an eye on the outages, click here.

Hydro-Québec says it is working to restore power to all of its customers by the end of the day, but it isn't making any promises. 

More than 19,000 customers remained without power across the province as of 12:30 p.m. ET Tuesday, with the majority in the Montreal, Outaouais, Montérégie and Laval regions. 

Daniel Miguez de Luca, a Pierrefonds resident in Montreal's West Island, said he and his family are trying to keep spirits up as they endure their fifth day in the dark. 

"It's been a little stressful … and it's been cold, so we're all bundled up in the house," he said. 

De Luca says they're trying to make the best of a bad situation by spending time together. 

"We had a little camp-out in the living room last night … and we're all having less screen time. I read a book last night," he laughed. 

Robert Quinn, another Pierrefonds resident, is less optimistic about the situation. With one generator for the house, he said he can't wait for his power to be restored. 

"It's rough. I would like to take a shower," he said. "Five days without a shower is not very fun." 

Hydro-Québec spokesperson Francis Labbé said Tuesday all highly affected regions are places with many mature trees that were weighed down by ice. 

"The damages were very important," he told CBC Montreal's Daybreak. "When a tree falls or breaks and hits our network, there's [only] so much we can do. We just have to rebuild it." 

In total, 1,600 workers are repairing power lines Tuesday. 

He insisted that progress is slower because the utility is now tackling outages that may affect only seven to 10 customers at a time. He said it "did not abandon customers," but did prioritize hospitals and seniors' residences.

"We know it's hard and it's tough on people. We understand that. Our workers have been working 16 hours a day, and they're still on the ground today." 

He is also asking those who lost power for several days to keep the temperature in their home at 18 C to start because "it gives a break to a network that will be heavily solicited by every home around."

On Monday, the public utility brought in seven additional crews to address the power outages, with 780 workers performing repairs in Montreal, Maxime Nadeau, director of energy system control at Hydro-Québec, told Radio-Canada's Tout un matin.

He said the higher number of power outages remaining in the West Island is due to the area having a greater amount of outages initially and the company restoring power across the territory at similar rates. The West Island had almost 500,000 power outages at the peak of the storm, compared to about 122,000 in the east, he said. 

"There may still be cases and interventions to do with master electricians, but we're very confident that we'll complete most of the major work today," Nadeau said. 

He added that customers seeking compensation for enduring food or other losses during a power outage will have to contact their insurance companies. 

No planning ahead, says Montreal West Island mayor

Dollard-des-Ormeaux Mayor Alex Bottausci said 18,500 households lost electricity at the peak of the storm last week. 

Several hundreds of customers in the area were still without power as of Monday night. 

He said the public utility warned him the remaining case are more complicated to fix since crews need to install poles, transformers, move fences and take down sheds in residents' yards before focusing on restoring power. 

Bottausci said he's frustrated that a corporation "that is worth billions of dollars" hasn't seemed to plan for these kinds of events. 

"What's the risk management that they've tried to calculate behind this?" he said. 

He said he plans on speaking with Hydro-Québec and the city of Montreal to discuss how to minimize damage in the event of another storm. 

Bottausci said he has no issue with being told to plant more trees to protect the city's canopies, "however, we have to look at our hydro passage and distribution lines and realistically take toll and do a calculation and think of what we should be doing along these corridors." 

Régis Tellier, the utility's vice-president of operations and maintenance, told reporters Sunday morning that power was restored to over 90 per cent of the more than one million customers who lost electricity  — including 180,000 who saw the lights come back on Saturday.

Tellier said most of Quebec's remaining outages affect only a handful of customers, noting Hydro workers are reconnecting fewer customers even though they're working at the same pace.

Hydro-Québec is also asking the public to stay away from power lines on the ground or any other objects connected to the power system, and call 911 to have the area secured.

Officials warn against using fuel-burning appliances inside after reports of that dozens of people dealt with carbon monoxide poisoning. Montreal public health said Sunday that 180 cases have been reported at emergency rooms in the city since Wednesday, including more than 50 reported since Saturday.


Holly Cabrera


Holly Cabrera is a journalist with CBC in Montreal. Reach her by email at

With files from Kwabena Oduro, CBC Montreal's Daybreak and The Canadian Press