New Brunswick

Ice storm hits Miramichi region, Acadian Peninsula hard, leaves thousands in dark

Freezing rain is still battering the Acadian Peninsula as it and the Miramichi region of New Brunswick continue to deal with power outages, ice-laden and downed trees, broken power poles and in some areas, gas outages.

Gas shortages being experienced in some areas

Hydro poles in many areas of the Acadian Peninsula have snapped off under the weight of the ice from hours of freezing rain. (Janie Mallet/Radio Canada)

Freezing rain is still battering New Brunswick's Acadian Peninsula as it and the Miramichi region continue to deal with power outages, ice-laden and downed trees, broken power poles and in some areas, gas outages.

Caraquet, N.B., town councillor Yves Roy says 90 per cent of the town is without power and there were downed power lines and broken hydro poles all over. 

"It's bad all over the Acadian Peninsula," he said, adding he found it worse than Hurricane Arthur.

At 8 p.m. Wednesday there were more than 22,000 customers without power in that region with no estimated time of restoration.

NB Power president Gaetan Thomas said at a press conference earlier Wednesday that crews were unable to fully assess damage in the north, where the storm was still "raging."

A hydro pole snapped off under the weight off the ice in Pointe Sauvage, N.B. (Janie Mallet/Radio Canada)

NB Power said it is bringing in additional crews to respond to the outages, which were the result of high winds and falling trees, as well as ice buildup on transmission and electricity lines.

The utility was expecting to have 245 crews working by the end of Wednesday from NB Power, Nova Scotia Power and local and external contractors.

Ice pellets continue

The weather forecast was still calling for ice pellets and a few flurries Wednesday night, with temperatures rising to 1 C but falling overnight. 

Without power in most of the town, Roy said it wasn't possible to open a warming station to offer relief for residents. One is open in Paquetville at the Manoir Edith B Pinet, 1189 des Fondateurs St, 20 kilometres from Caraquet. 

In Shippagan, the fire department was asking people to stay home and off the roads so they could deal with emergency calls and blocked roads.

The fire department was especially concerned about roads leading into an area known as La Goulet. There were a number of hydro poles and downed power lines in the area. 

In a Facebook post, the fire chief warned there were many high voltage lines that were damaged and wires were across the roads. "Please do not take unnecessary risks," the post said in French. 

Roy said public works crews in Caraquet would be working all night in the town. He added council would meet Thursday to reassess the situation. 

Gas shortage

Further south, towards Miramichi, N.B.,. many towns, villages and small communities were without power Wednesday night. The two gas stations with power in Neguac and neighbouring Burnt Church First Nation had confirmed they had run out of fuel. Vehicles were lined up at both locations until late afternoon.

Vehicles wait to fuel up at Lazare Breau's Service Centre in Neguac. The station ran out of fuel by late Wednesday afternoon. (Josee LeGresley/Facebook)

Those who were unable to get fuel at those locations were travelling to Lavilette, 23 kilometres away and lining up at the gas station known as La Bonne Route. 

The Burnt Church First Nation opened up the bingo hall as a warming station for those in the region that needed a snack and warm drink.Transportation was being made available as well. 

Children enjoy the warmth of the warming station at the Golden Hawk Centre in Miramich, one of three open in that city. (Bridget Yard/CBC)

In Miramichi, three warming stations were open for city and area residents to use, located at the Goodie Shop, Golden Hawk Centre and the Point Church.

Mayor Adam Lordon said if anyone needed a ride to a warming centre, Miramichi Transit buses would be available to pick people up. The Golden Hawk centre would remain open all night for those who need to stay there. Residents who need to spend the night are asked to bring their own blankets or sleeping bags but food and water will be provided.

Lots of challenges

"The biggest challenge is the lack of power. There was some water in the streets (Wednesday) morning. We've been working closely all morning with our director of public works, the police chief, the whole team in a nerve centre based out of our city's police station," said Lordon.

The mayor is also asking city residents to conserve water.

"Unfortunately, a lot of our city's wells depend on that power so we're asking our residents at this time to conserve water." 

As of 8 p.m., there were 17,000 customers without power in Miramichi and Northumberland County. In Escuminac, heavy ice had knocked down five hydro poles.

Five hydro poles were broken off by the weight of accumulated ice. (Sylvain Robichaud/Facebook)

CBC meteorologist Kalin Mitchell said on temperatures will fall to between -6 C and -1 C overnight but are expected to rise above the freezing mark on Thursday.

In much of the north, the forecast calls for sun and clouds, with rain and flurries continuing throughout central and southern New Brunswick, he said. The Acadian Peninsula may still experience flurries.