Hydro crews restore power to most homes on Magdalen Islands

Crews worked through the night to reconnect the Magdalen Islands to the Hydro-Quebec grid, after power lines were knocked down during last week's storm.

Ministry of public security to provide emergency funding, telecommunications services

Quebec's public security minister, Geneviève Guilbault, met with residents and local officials on the Magdalen Islands on Saturday. (Simon Turcotte/Radio-Canada)

Power has been mostly restored to homes and businesses on the Magdalen Islands, more than 48 hours after a powerful storm swept over the archipelago.

As of 4 p.m. on Saturday, only 123 Hydro-Quebec customers were without power, down from 2,300 on Friday. 

Residents say they are thankful for the rapid response from emergency crews and government officials.

Five Hydro-Quebec trucks arrived by boat on Friday night with a dozen more workers, who immediately started setting up new utility poles to replace the ones that were toppled during the storm

"It was quite a sight seeing the poles broken everywhere," said Kendall Dickson, a resident on Grande-Entrée Island.

Dickson said the storm was the worst he's seen in the past 12 years.

"The house was shaking. It was quite a night."

Kendall Dickson said he's been lucky to have a generator to keep going in his home. (Radio-Canada)

A generator hooked up to Dickson's home meant he has had heat and running water for the past two days, as he cleans up the broken windows and torn roof shingles.

He said he was impressed to see teams working outside despite the difficult weather conditions.

"With the high winds it's not easy for them either. I think they're doing an excellent job," he said.

Jacinthe Turbide has been living in her home's annex, which is fuel-run, since she lost power on Thursday morning.

She said friends and neighbours have been checking in on her and she's visited family — also taking the situation in stride.

"It's not great but we don't have a choice. People get organized as best they can."

Emergency funds 

Quebec's Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault arrived on Saturday, and made a speech thanking emergency crews who have been working round the clock.

Twenty-three Hydro-Quebec teams are currently on the ground.

Guilbault held a news conference on Saturday afternoon and announced that emergency funding would be provided to residents who lost their homes, after a fire destroyed a housing complex on Thursday.

Officials have confirmed that one of the two fibre optic cables running between Gaspé and the Magdalen Islands was damaged during the storm.

Mayor Jonathan Lapierre said divers will inspect the breach, around 30  kilometres off the archipelago, as soon as the weather allows.

Despite the size of the fire that consumed the H.L.M. de Havre-aux-Maisons, no one was injured. (Philippe Grenier/Radio-Canada)

The second cable also malfunctioned on Thursday, cutting the archipelago off from the mainland for several hours.

"Once again we see that the telecommunications network here is fragile," said Guilbault.

It's still not clear yet what kind of work will have to be done to fully restore the cables and ensure they stand up to future storms, but Guilbault said she intends to find a solution, in conjunction with the federal government.

In the meantime, a satellite connection could be up and running as soon as Saturday night, to ensure communications don't break down again. 

With files from Radio-Canada's Olivier Bachand