Residents of Grise Fiord, Nunavut, staying in local school, await power restoration

Snowmobile and truck lights helped a crew with the Qulliq Energy Corporation land in Grise Fiord, Nunavut this morning, to restore power to about half the community.

Qulliq Energy crew arrived this morning; landed with help of snowmobile, truck lights

There's been extensive damage to homes and buildings in the community of Grise Fiord, Nunavut, after a wind storm raged on for more than 24 hours. (Arnarulunnguaq Audlaluk)

Snowmobile and truck lights helped a crew with the Qulliq Energy Corporation land in Grise Fiord, Nunavut this morning, to restore power to about half the community.

Power was knocked out to the whole community of Grise Fiord Monday night during a wind storm, when the roof of a house ripped off and took down a power line. During the storm, strong winds topped out at over 100 km/h.

Power has been restored to about 50 per cent of residents; the other half have taken shelter in the local school.

"We had to evacuate with the kids from our house," said Susie Kiguktak, a town councillor.

Grise Fiord, population 150, is Canada's most northerly community, and at this time of year the sun doesn't rise.

Despite that, Kiguktak said it was strange to see the town in total darkness.

"It was eerie just going through the community when it was like pitch black," she said. "We had no lights except for the car lights... that's all we could see.

"Never seen the town like that before," she laughed.

Kiguktak says about 50 people whose homes are without power are currently holding up in the school.

"Each classroom is filled with people, all night," she said. "People brought their mattresses and blankets with them."

'We had homemade runway lights'

A line crew with the Qulliq Energy Corporation finally made it the community to restore power this morning, after being delayed due to the continuing wind storm.

But it was no easy task to land the plane.

"We had homemade lights," Kiguktak laughed. "I think we had four skidoos, two trucks and a police truck at the end of the runway flashing their lights, with flare [pots].

"People up there at the airport started clapping and welcoming the crew," she said.

"It was a long couple days, couple nights."

Qulliq Energy's operations manager, Andy Burns, says he's unsure how long it will take the crew to fully restore power.

"I'm hesitant to give a restoration time," Burns said. "They can make a full assessment of the extent of the damages and we'll go from there."

Hole in health centre

The storm has left extensive damage to homes and buildings in the community. A roof was ripped off at least one house and Kiguktak says the local health centre also suffered significant damage.
Damage to a home in Grise Fiord, Nunavut, after a powerful wind storm Monday night. (Arnarulunnguaq Audlaluk)

"Our health centre wall from the outside to the inside has been hit. It's open from four feet up and two feet wide — so it's actually open from the outside, you can actually see through the wall."

Kiguktak has lived in the community her whole life and said, "I've never seen anything like this."

But she said people in Grise Fiord have pulled together, as they always do.

"I just lucky I am to be living in the community where everyone works together and we're all a big family here and everyone gives a hand and we share our energy.

"I'm really proud to say that."


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?