Quebec offers blankets, beds and hydro crews to Texas in wake of Hurricane Harvey
'They are our friends, this is what friendship means,' said Minister Christine St-Pierre
Quebec is offering to help Houston in the wake of Hurricane Harvey and is at the ready for when officials there say they need it, says Minister of International Relations Christine St-Pierre.
St-Pierre says she spoke with Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos Tuesday early afternoon, offering to send equipment and crews to help restore power and to provide blankets, beds, pillows and hygienic products.
Above all, St-Pierre said she called to voice Quebec's concern for Texans caught up in the disaster.
"It was a conversation about how devastating the situation is and we want to express our support to the people of Texas," she said.
St-Pierre told CBC that Pablos declined the aid for now, instead asking for "prayers from the people of Quebec."
Hydro-Québec crews ready to mobilize
St-Pierre also offered the help of Hydro-Québec crews, which are part of a mutual assistance group connecting electricity utilities in North America's Northeast region. The group also provides assistance in major events outside that territory.
"Our crews are well-equipped and they have good knowledge of the grid so they can help to restore and rebuild the distribution lines," said Hydro-Québec spokesperson Louis-Olivier Batty.
Whether they get there by plane or make the 30-hour drive with utility vehicles depends on the need if it comes, Batty said, adding that Hydro-Québec's trucks "can do a lot of different work."
St-Pierre said Hydro-Québec sent 250 technicians in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which caused severe damage and more than 1,800 deaths in seven states in 2005.
Strong commercial ties with Texas
Batty said the last time Hydro-Québec crews received help was when strong winds caused about 300,000 power outages in the province in the summer of 2013.
At that time, crews from the northeastern United States and from New Brunswick pitched in to help Quebec. The province also received help from American crews during the 1998 Ice Storm.
"They are our friends, this is what friendship means," St-Pierre said, adding that Quebec's ties with Texas are solidified by its trade relationship, and most notably the aerospace industry.
"When you are friends, you call and you say, 'Do you need help?' and this is what it is."
With files from CBC Quebec's Peter Tardif