New Brunswick

Military poised to help as some N.B. homes face 5th day without power

Power crews continue to work to restore power to about 35,000 homes and businesses in New Brunswick, some of whom are entering their fifth day without electricity. A Canadian Armed Forces rescue team is in the region to lend support.

80% of customers expected to have electricity by Sunday night, says NB Power

There are more than 300 power crews working across New Brunswick today. (NB Power)

Power crews continue to work to restore power to about 35,000 homes and businesses in New Brunswick, some of whom are entering their fifth day without electricity.

The largest number of outages are in the Acadian Peninsula. About 20,000 customers have been in the dark, some since late Tuesday as temperatures dipped to -9 C overnight.

An ice storm Tuesday and Wednesday downed trees, power lines and hydro poles and cut off electricity to 130,000 households across the province.

A reconnaissance team from the Canadian Armed Forces is in the region to determine what kind of support could be offered. 

Premier Brian Gallant said at a news conference Saturday the province had discussions with the federal government of the possibility of bringing the military in to help. He added he expects a report by the end of the day on what assistance could be provided. 

Any discussions about the cost and who will pay will be held afterward, Gallant said.

Both federal Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and Ralph Goodale, minister of public safety, wrote posts on Twitter saying the federal government was ready to help.

Over 6.500 customers are without power in the Miramichi area. Over 12,000 are without power in communities in Kent County and in Moncton, Riverview and Dieppe. 

Crews from NB Power and other utilities in Eastern Canada and Maine are assisting in the effort to restore power. 

​There have been two deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning and seven people are being treated in hospital.

People are being reminded of the dangers of using generators or barbecues indoors as it is extremely dangerous. 

State of emergency

Two more communities have declared states of emergency today — Sainte-Marie-Saint-Raphaë​l and Le Goulet.

Tracadie, Shippagan and Lameque declared states of emergency on Friday which continue today.  

The New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization has been working with all communities affected by the ice storm and is helping with recovery efforts.

The Red Cross is providing assistance to communities across the province by setting up warming centres, providing cots, and bottled water. More than 40 volunteers and staff as well as vehicles and trailers of supplies were sent to help in northeastern N.B.

Gallant urged everyone to remain safe as power crews work to restore power after he toured the region, visited warming centres and spoke to power crews. 

NB Power vice-president Tony O'Hara said the utility did make important progress Friday in the northern part of the province with repairs completed to all transmission lines and substations.

"We've had significant challenges in the Acadian Peninsula, that's where we are having the most difficulty making progress."

"What that means for today is every time we clear a distribution line, lines feeding homes and businesses, we will be bringing customers back on," he said.

While O'Hara said while they might not have reached their targets on Friday to get more customers online, "crews did an unbelievable job getting these critical pieces of our system back in place."

"No question, we will be making a lot more progress today," said O'Hara. "I think it's looking quite good. From early morning when our crews starts at seven o'clock or so we've reduced by about 5,000 customers so far today."

He added with the number of work orders being worked on over 11,000 customers will have power restored Saturday. 

"There will be large numbers of customers returned to service by tomorrow night for sure."

​NB Power president Gaetan Thomas said this storm overall has a bigger impact than Hurricane Arthur because it occurred in the winter, not the summer. He added the government response is better than in any storm he has seen previously.

Aim is to have power restored to 80% 

Gallant said NB Power's aggressive restoration estimate is to have 80 per cent of customers reconnected by the end of the day depending on weather conditions.

Estimated restoration times are posted on the NB Power website. Those wanting more information can call NB Power at 1-800-663-6272.

There are more than 300 power crews working across New Brunswick today, with 90 of them on the Acadian Peninsula. More will be heading there from the southern part of the province as power is restored in that region. Those crews will be in charge of clearing roads of any downed trees, lines and poles with the assistance of local contractors.

O'Hara said the NB Power helicopter has been deployed to check for all blocked roads so the necessary resources can be sent to clear them safely.

People who need assistance can also call the Canadian Red Cross at 1-800-222-9597. 

Warming stations remain open in various regions. There are 46 open in Albert and Kent Counties, Miramichi and the Acadian Peninsula for phone charging, warming, food, sleeping and some medical attention. 

Gallant said there are 200 people going door to door to check on welfare of residents in Albert and Kent Counties, Miramichi and the Acadian Peninsula. More volunteers are needed to make these important checks, he added. 

NB Power has a helicopter in the area if there is an emergency. 

Both Gallant and Thomas reminded those without power to unplug appliances to avoid surges. People are also asked to not touch trees or power lines around their homes.

"Leave it to the professionals," said Gallant.