New Brunswick

Ice storm fallout: Still more than 61,000 without power

About 48 hours after an ice storm started hitting New Brunswick on Tuesday, more than 61,000 New Brunswickers remain without electricity.

Warming stations are open in many communities across the province

Staff at Peoples Park Tower in Moncton are going door to door with flashlights making sure residents at the retirement home are okay. (Kate Letterick/CBC)

About 48 hours after an ice storm started hitting New Brunswick on Tuesday, more than 61,000 New Brunswickers remained without electricity.

That's a significant drop from when outages caused by the storm were at their peak Wednesday morning, though. About 133,000 homes and businesses had no electricity at the time.

As of 11:58 p.m. Thursday, the number of NB Power customers without electricity had been reduced to 61,254.

The Acadian Peninsula continued to account for almost one-third of the outages, with 23,980 reported on NB Power's website.

The Moncton area still had 10,551 homes and businesses without electricity, and the Miramichi area had 11,188 outages.

Residents of senior's home in the cold for two days

Edwin Edmonds said he tried to "tough it out" when the power turned off at his Moncton senior's home.

The 95-year-old resident of Peoples Park Tower said the outage started Tuesday night and lasted until Thursday afternoon.

At Camden Park Terrace, a retirement home in Moncton, a refrigeration truck is used to keep food cold. (Kate Letterick/CBC)

Edmonds said the outage gave him time to finish a book on Eisenhower. But for the rest of the time, he just waited or walked the corridors.

"I went to bed at 7 o'clock and didn't get up until close to 7 a.m.," he said.

"There was nothing else to do but do that and I mean these things happen and they have to be dealt with."

Peoples Park Tower has 324 seniors apartments, while neighbouring residence Camden Park has 45 units. 

Paul Hamscombe, director of residential operations, said the residences brought in extra staff to make sure people were okay and looked after in case of emergencies.

Some residents also decided to stay with their families.

This viewer video shows the extent of the damage along one street in Escuminac, N.B. 0:31

Kim Keith LeBlanc said her mother was a little cold, but made it through the blackout.

But better planning needs to be in place in case something like this happens again, she said.

"They shouldn't have to go that long without any heat, without something hot to eat," she said.

"You know, going forward, if this is the kind of weather predicaments that we're going to be facing, then there's got to be some kind of a strategic plan between NB Power, between these nursing homes, between the seniors groups, that our seniors are indeed taken care of first."

Rural residents live off generators

Wanda Robertson, who lives in Kars, N.B., said she lost power at 4 p.m. Tuesday and has been fuelling her generator day and night.

Ice covers power lines in Pointe Sapin, N.B., on Jan. 26, 2017. (Diane Doiron/Canadian Press)

"My husband works, so I've been up the nights and the day filling up the generator,`she said. "Taking the gas from the garage in the dark and taking it over there.

"And it's been interesting trying to hold the flashlight between my teeth and get the funnel into the generator to pour the gas."

Because she lives in the country, Robertson said it takes longer for her power to come back on.

Her best advice to anyone is to buy a generator, and keep the bathtub and any available bucket filled with water.

"Because you definitely need [the generator]," she said. "We use it for the furnace, we use it for the fridge, right now the fridge and the freezer are plugged in."

EMO's safety advice

Robert Duguay, the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization spokesman, advised residents to avoid running generators or cooking with an open flame inside their home or garage because the carbon monoxide this creates can become extremely dangerous, he said.

The Acadian Peninsula has been the hardest hit part of the province, with several downed lines, snapped power polls and blocked roads. 0:46

He also reminded customers to turn down their heat sources and unplug major appliances in advance of power restoration to avoid a surge in demand that has the potential of causing more outages.

Duguay said residents who do not have electricity should not open their freezers or fridges unless absolutely necessary. All perishable food in a refrigerator without electricity for more than 24 hours should be discarded.

People should also avoid leaving candles or lanterns unattended, he said.

Miramichi asks residents to conserve water

Miramichi Mayor Adam Lordon asked residents using city water Thursday to conserve it until further notice.

Lordon said at a news conference Thursday afternoon that 60 per cent of residents should get their power back by the end of the day.

Everyone else will have to wait another day or two, he said.

Lordon said clean-up efforts in Miramichi are expected to last another week.

Video taken on the Young Ridge Bridge in Rogersville shows a train slowly making its way down a track lined with snow, ice and downed trees. 0:58

In the meantime, the warming stations at the Golden Hawk Recreation Center and the Goodie Shop will remain open overnight Thursday for those who need a place to stay, he said.

"We do want to stress that it will be some time before things go back to normal in Miramichi and many citizens could still be facing another 24 hours without power or more," Lordon said in a news release earlier in the day.

Several other communities in New Brunswick also opened warming centres on Thursday for residents still without power. Many of them offer a place to stay overnight, a meal or charging stations for regular and medical appliances.

New Brunswickers with any medical concerns who are affected by power outages are also encouraged to call Tele-Care 811, say officials.

NB Power continues restoration efforts

On Thursday, NB Power brought in crews from Hydro Quebec to join efforts to restore power to residents.

There were 270 crews from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Maine working to repair the damage before reinforcements were sent in.

Jimmy Houssen of Moncton shot this video from afar as falling trees cause fuses to blow on power lines in Moncton, lighting up the sky Wednesday. 1:04

The utility is also contracting private companies to help with the outages.

Donald Cormier of K&M Utility Lines in Neguac said NB Power mobilized them before the storm and they've been busy ever since.

 "We have so many orders, we don't even know where to go next," he said.

NB Power said it expects to have 80 per cent of customers in Sussex and Moncton restored to power by the end of Thursday night. It also plans to restore 60 per cent of outages in Tracadie, Miramichi, Sackville, Shediac and Bouctouche.

Ninety-nine per cent of customers should get their power back by the end of the night in St. Stephen, Woodstock, Bathurst, Eel River, Rothesay and Fredericton.

With files from Elizabeth Fraser