Nova Scotia

'I thanked God that the power came back on,' Lunenburg man says after 3-day outage

Some customers with damaged electrical equipment are still without power, as an electrician needs to complete repairs before power can be safely restored.

Intense windstorm saw about 158,000 customers lose electricity

Gerald Keddy shared the home with his wife for many years, but has lived alone since her death three years ago. (Richard Cuthbertson/CBC)

Nova Scotia Power says its crews have restored electricity to the last of its customers who lost power after an intense windstorm swept across the province starting Christmas Day.

The widespread outages affected about 158,000 customers, starting around 4 p.m. on Monday afternoon. The final customers to be reconnected were six homes on Big Tancook and Little Tancook islands, with power restored as of 2 p.m. Friday.

In Back Centre, a community just outside of Lunenburg, Gerald Keddy was putting his house back in order Friday.

He was doing the dishes Christmas Day when the lights went out. By midnight, his neighbours had power, but he remained powerless. By morning, a thermometer registered –19 C inside the home he shares with Tonka and Bear, his two dogs.  

"All the windows were froze solid. Luckily my pipes didn't freeze up, and I was thankful for that," he told CBC News Friday.

Left in the dark about when he could expect his power back, he prepared to survive the deep freeze. He borrowed a kerosene heater from his step-son in Martins Point, hung a blanket over the livingroom door, shut all the upstairs doors, pulled a blanket over himself, and hunkered down in his winter coat and boots.

Gerald Keddy shows the winter boots that didn't leave his feet as he endured the powerless deep freeze. (Richard Cuthbertson/CBC)

His dogs didn't mind. "They don't find it too cold — they've got a fur coat on — but I haven't got a fur coat. It was pretty drafty in here."

He opened a window every few hours to vent the kerosene heater.

Keddy, who has lived alone since his wife died three years ago, got some help from his landlord. Keddy has two bad legs and needs knee replacements. The deep cold didn't help.

"It was like staying outdoors. My landlord carried water for me from the brook so I could use the bathroom. It was the same as going to an outdoor toilet."

The 63-year-old woke up Thursday and looked in the mirror. "I looked like a grizzly bear and I didn't smell much better."

He called by his stepson's house to use the shower and when he came home, he saw the welcome sight of a Nova Scotia Power crew repairing his lines. A few minutes later, his furnace roared back into life.

"I'm not a religious man, but I thanked God that the power came back on," he said of his ordeal. "What can you do? You can complain, but there's not too many people that listen."

Plumbers working flat-out on burst pipes

His neighbour Ryan Dahl meanwhile had no running water, but lots of dripping water. When the temperature in his house fell below –15 C, the pipes froze. When they thawed, they started leaking.

"It's frustrating, but hopefully it gets resolved today when the plumber comes over," he said.

Several plumbing companies told CBC News they have received many calls about burst pipes in the last two days, particularly at homes that lost heat when the power went out. The cold snap, coupled with the driving wind, has contributed to the problem.

Ryan Dahl tries to catch water dripping from his pipes, which began leaking as they thawed. (Richard Cuthbertson/CBC)

Nova Scotia Power noted that some customers with damaged electrical equipment are still without power, as an electrician needs to complete repairs before power can be safely restored.

The utility's website shows a total of 11 "active outages" affecting 57 customers, though the utility said earlier some of the outstanding outages happened after the storm had ended.

Spokesperson David Rodenhiser said Friday morning the utility had trouble getting to Big Tancook and Little Tancook islands because the ferry was shut down this week. Nova Scotia Power ultimately hired a helicopter to bring crews to the islands to make repairs. 

Cold weather to continue into weekend

The company had repeatedly changed the estimated restoration time over the last few days, with initial estimates saying power would be fully restored by noon on Wednesday. 

Nova Scotia Power said its priority had been to fix the larger outages and took time to get to the smaller ones, which crews found to be more complex than they expected after getting a closer look at the damage.

The highest concentration of outages was along the South Shore; winds across Nova Scotia reached 110 km/h during the storm.

Cold temperatures are expected to continue across Nova Scotia over the weekend, with wind chill values of below –20 C.

There are a few flights travelling to and from Halifax Stanfield International Airport on Friday that are delayed or cancelled.

Meanwhile, Marine Atlantic ferries between Newfoundland and Cape Breton sailed for the first time in days Thursday night after a break in the weather.

Poles in Eastern Passage snapped off in the Christmas Day windstorm. (CBC)

with files from Richard Cuthbertson

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